That is the question before the Federal Election Commission on Thursday at its next open meeting. In a draft Advisory Opinion posted Friday, the preliminary answer is that a former candidate’s campaign committee faces no limits on contributions to a Super PAC.
The question is posed by former candidate, Mike Haridopolos. He dropped out of the Florida Senate race last year and still has more than $1 million in the bank. He asks the FEC if he can make a contribution of $10,000 or more from those funds to a Super PAC called Freedom PAC.
The draft advisory opinion concludes that the contribution is permitted by the catch-all provision in the law that allows use of campaign funds “for any other lawful purpose,” concluding the contribution is neither a prohibited personal use nor otherwise unlawful. The draft notes that were the conclusion to be otherwise, as a former-candidate, Mr. Haridopolos could nonetheless achieve the same result by simply converting his campaign committee into a nonconnected committee by amending its registration statement, and then making the contribution, all of which would be permissible under current law.
The issue is made somewhat easier because it is posed by a former candidate. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 states a federal candidate or officeholder may not “direct” or “transfer” funds in excess of the hard money limits. Since Haridopolos is no longer a candidate, the FEC can avoid hard questions that could arise interpreting that restriction or the coordination rules.