Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

A super PAC is helping RFK Jr. get on the ballot. Democrats say that’s illegal.

By 37ci3 Feb17,2024



Democratic group accuses independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and major super PAC support illegally coordinate with each other to get it on the ballot.

A centrist Democratic think tank has written to secretaries of state warning that third-way candidates could hurt President Joe Biden’s re-election chances in November. Arizona, Georgia and Michigan on Friday urged them not to accept signatures collected by super PACs to help Kennedy.

A pro-Kennedy super PAC, American Values ​​2024, has announced his plans Spending at least $15 million to help get Kennedy on the ballot, hiring at least three research firms to collect signatures on his behalf in multiple states.

But attorneys at Elias Law Group, a powerful Democratic election law firm representing Third Way, argue that federal rules barring coordination between a candidate and a super PAC cannot be circumvented while still complying with state laws requiring candidates themselves. submits a signature to enter the ballot.

“Federal campaign finance law requires that American Values ​​2024 conduct this effort independently of Mr. Kennedy,” Third Way’s attorneys wrote in a letter to Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes. “However, Arizona law does not permit a third-party organization to collect and submit nominating petition signatures regardless of an eligible candidate.”

Arizona law refers to “the candidate and his or her legal counsel” submitting signatures to be included on the ballot, but makes no mention of other parties submitting on behalf of the candidate, the letter said.

Letters sent to top election officials in Georgia and Michigan cite similar provisions in their state laws, such as Michigan, which states that signatures must be “submitted by a person eligible to appear on the ballot as a candidate.”

Third Way’s complaint to the states follows a similar complaint from the Democratic National Committee Submitted to the Federal Election Commission last week.

Kennedy’s team says the law is on their side and has denounced Democratic efforts to overturn his nomination as undemocratic. Campaign manager Amaryllis Fox Kennedy said the campaign “never planned to trust [the super PAC] to enter the ballots.”

“Our nationwide operation is ongoing and we will be getting out the vote in all 50 states with our volunteers and small dollar donations,” he said. “Americans are tired of the establishment resorting to legal threats against their political opponents. They deserve a leader who demands a voice on the issues that affect their lives.”

Tony Lyons, president of the super PAC and Kennedy’s book publisher, said Democrats “know their candidates can’t win arguments in the marketplace of ideas, and so they’re attacking voting rights all out.”

“Precedent speaks volumes. Deleeuw v. Michigan. As exemplified by the State Canvassers Board case, a case strongly upheld by the Supreme Court, the act of collecting signatures and submitting them on behalf of a candidate is not only a civic duty, but an exercise of our First Amendment rights,” Lyon added.

Shanna Ports, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, said the rules governing super PACs are murky. The FEC has not updated its anti-coordination rules since Citizens United, the landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for super PACs, and the agency rarely takes enforcement action.

“It’s created an environment where campaigns and super PACs feel like they can push the boundaries more and more because there’s no compulsion,” he said.

Access to the ballot It is, as Kennedy often complained, the biggest problem for any independent presidential candidate.

The incredibly laborious and expensive process of qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states involves collecting at least 900,000 signatures from registered voters in each state, and some require a certain number of voters from each of its congressional districts.

Kennedy’s official campaign has said it relies mostly on volunteers to gather signatures for ballots, while his ally super PAC said it would bolster its efforts by recruiting volunteers.

Democrats say the regulation is not legal and argue that if it were, others would have done it.

“Any campaign would love to get outside ballot access to a super PAC,” said Matt Bennett, executive vice president of Third Way. “The problem is that it’s illegal.”

Bennett pointed to the former presidential campaign of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis loaded as many tasks as possible from the official campaign to a super PAC called Never Back Down that takes over virtually all of DeSantis’ field operations and even pays for events. That arrangement expressed his concerns about potential illegal coordination between campaign finance supervisors.

“The DeSantis people pushed the boundaries as far as they could,” Bennett said. “They used Never Back Down in a way that has never been seen in presidential politics. They wouldn’t even get far on the ballot.”

While super PACs are finding ways to work more closely with campaigns, candidates often use anti-coordination rules as a defense for actions taken by allied groups, Portlar noted.

Earlier this month, Kennedy apologized to some family members Super Bowl commercial It is run by American Values ​​2024 and said on social media that because FEC rules “prohibit Super PACs from consulting with me or my staff…it was created and published without any involvement or approval from my campaign.”



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