The Wall Street Journal today highlighted the unique and savvy approach that the Romney camp utilized to start early fundraising before Mitt launched his committee. I put this forward unabashedly because I consider political donations to be a form of free speech.
I’m not alone in this belief. Indeed, one of the great sources of angst that I and many other conservatives have with Senator McCain is the McCain-Feingold disaster.
Back to Romney. The article begins:
Federal law limits how much money individuals can give to presidential candidates — $2,300 per election. But what about Compuware Inc. founder Peter Karmanos? Last year, he gave $250,000 to presidential aspirant and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Since 2004, 15 other Romney backers have sunk at least $100,000 each into the Republican’s coffers, sometimes with a series of checks issued on a single day.
Shocker! People donated money legally, efficiently and to the maximum amount allowed. How did they do this?
Because he doesn’t hold federal office, Mr. Romney became subject to the federal rules only after he set up a presidential exploratory committee earlier this month. Until then, his team took advantage of a little-noticed gap between federal and state law. While most states limit political donations, about a dozen don’t. Mr. Romney’s political team set up fund-raising committees in three of those: Michigan, Iowa and Alabama. During that time, his political action committees raised $7 million.
As a result, Mr. Romney was able to hit the ground running, a big advantage in what has already become a feverish race. A week after announcing his possible bid, having already taken care of basic campaign logistics such as hiring and office space, the former governor held a Boston fund-raiser that netted $6.5 million in pledges. Mr. Romney also used the cash to build a broad network of financial backers and grass-roots allies.
Again, put yourself in the shoes of any campaign leader and ask: “what should I do to best the competition?” Oh, I know, raise legal funds among my grassroots state supporters and organizations to ramp up efforts moving into the 2007 political season. Here’s a quick graphic they provided:
But wait, is this illegal. No, and it isn’t even that new:
Like Mr. Romney, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has a nonfederal committee, which collected more than $500,000 from labor unions before he became a Democratic presidential candidate. The 2002 campaign-finance law forbids such contributions to federal politicians or anyone who has officially opened a committee exploring a run for federal office. Mr. Vilsack, like Mr. Romney, isn’t a federal office holder.
Ditto former New York Gov. George Pataki, who has a $100,000 backer, Patrick E. Malloy III, a Sag Harbor developer. Mr. Malloy’s September donation to the Iowa arm of Mr. Pataki’s 21st Century Freedom PAC makes up nearly half the contributions to the state account, according to the latest reports filed just before the November elections.
So, let me get this straight, Romney’s experienced team of advisers developed a way to raise funds legally to support potential efforts by raising money at the state level bypassing arcane and incumbent-focused federal laws that were put in place by his competitor, Senator McCain.
This is not only smart campaigning but also a well-deserved shot across McCain’s bow. Once again, to cite Hugh Hewitt, he’s a great American, a lousy Senator and a terrible Republican. Vote Romney IMHO.
As Newt Gingrich pointed out: “The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law enacted in 2002 is an equally dangerous modern-day assault on the First Amendment. It could more accurately be called the McCain-Feingold censorship law because it stifles political speech, protects incumbent politicians and consolidates power in Washington. This law is of the Congress, by the Congress, and for the Congress, because it protects members of Congress by silencing opposing points of view…. McCain-Feingold explicitly rejects James Madison’s warning in Federalist 10 that the destruction of liberty in pursuit of “curing the mischief of factions” is worse than the disease itself.”