We often joke that the GOP field is like a clown car, but with 28 candidates and growing, even the best clownery won’t fit all the mostly white men into one car.
Why would so many people who hate the government run for President? Don’t they know that most don’t stand even a remote chance? Sure they do. Running for President these days has little to do with wanting to win the highest office in the United States – it’s about making money or getting publicity while pretending to run to serve the country.
When you or I donate to a presidential campaign, we have strict limits. We can donate $2,700 (as individuals) to a primary campaign and the same amount to a general election campaign. We can also donate up to $33,400 a year to a national party. For most people struggling to scrape by, this is a lot of money, but it’s still dwarfed by what can be donated to PACs (political action committees) and SuperPACs, much of which can be kept by the candidate, win or lose.
November 8, 2016 will be the last day anyone will run for the next presidential term, but that doesn’t mean candidates have to stop running, nor does it mean that money has to be returned to donors or even spent. A candidate can run in perpetuity and their PAC can stay alive just as long.
If they do decide to shut down their campaign and their PAC, there are somewhat strict limits on how the money can be spent. They can’t spend the money on personal use, but they can payoff campaign debts, transfer the money to another candidate, or give it to a political party.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is another level of PAC called a leadership PAC. As Open Secrets says about Leadership PACs:
“A leadership PAC is a political action committee that can be established by current and former members of Congress as well as other prominent political figures. Leadership PACs are designed for two things: to make money and to make friends. In the rough and tumble political game, elected officials know that money and friends in high places are very important to winning elections and leadership positions.”
Leadership PACs, like standard donations, have limits of $5,000 per year. The money can’t go toward formal campaigns but they can pay for less direct things like travel, fundraising, polling, consulting, etc. They can also spend it just to support a lavish lifestyle for the candidate, the candidate’s family and whomever, while campaigning or even after.
The real money and the real lawlessness, though, is with SuperPACs. SuperPACSs have no limits. Billionaires and corporations can donate as much as they want and the candidates can do with it whatever the hell they want. The only restriction is that legally, the campaigns can’t coordinate with the SuperPACs. That’s why so many candidates have put off formally announcing – they do get to coordinate before they are official candidates. However, a third party from the candidate can be appointed to run the SuperPAC, even if that third party has a close relationship with the candidate.
The best education the nation has ever had on SuperPACs was when Stephen Colbert started his own.
Here’s the video:
Of course PACs, Leadership PACs and SuperPACs aren’t the only ways people who pretend to run for president gain access to oodles of cash. They also write books, become Fox News regulars, and for some, have a reality show. That’s better than being the leader of the free world anyway. There’s too much stress. Just look at how gray President Obama has gotten in the last six years.
Featured image by DonkeyHotey at Flickr.com.