Jerry Mander’s Political Corner – Mushhead McConnell’s Loophole

Jerry Mander

Mushhead McConnell

McConnell’s Loophole to Make NRSC More Powerful than PACs and Campaigns

By Amanda Carpenter at Conservative Review

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a problem. The political organization he sits at the head of, designed to protect incumbent Republican senators, is losing power. And so, in this year’s omnibus spending bill, which is considered “must pass” in order to keep the government running, he plans to give the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other party-aligned groups even more extraordinary privileges in the political process.
McConnell is preparing to attach a rider that would eliminate all coordination limits for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other national party committees run by Washington insiders, such as the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee. McConnell’s ploy would give party groups an incredible leg up over outside organizations that are barred from coordinating with candidates.
Should there be any coordination or giving limits? Of course not. It’s all unconstitutional. But what McConnell proposes is no principled reform. McConnell is abusing the legislative process to protect his diminishing political power. He wants more big donor money, with more power to spend it how he wants, and is granting himself a giant loophole to do it.
Nevermind that McConnell could be using the must-pass spending bill to defund Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, stop President Obama’s executive amnesty, or pause the Syrian refugee program; he has his own priorities. McConnell is using the precious opportunity to give himself more political power and protect his position as Majority Leader.

This isn’t a debate over leveling the playing field between the parties and Super PACs. McConnell wants the NRSC to be more powerful than multi-candidate PACS, such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, and individual candidate campaigns, say like, “Ted Cruz for Senate.”

According to current law, a single donor may give $33,400 to a party organization, such as the NRSC.

And the NRSC already has much more latitude to use those funds than any other groups. Although the amount varies from state to state based on the voting age population, the NRSC can spend anywhere from $96,000, in the sparsely-populated state of North Dakota, to more than $1 million for the state of Texas on coordinating activities.

McConnell’s coordination rider would remove all coordination limits for the NRSC and other party groups. Every single penny of a donor’s $33,400 contribution would be able, through the NRSC, to be used in direct coordination with the candidates. The NRSC may also, on top of coordinating funds, contribute up to another $46,800 to candidates.

Meanwhile, the limits placed on donations to other organizations are much, much more stringent.

A donor may only give $2,700 directly to a candidate.

A single donor may only give $5,000 to a multi-candidate PAC and that PAC may only donate $5,000 per candidate, with no coordination.

Donors may give freely to Super PACS, but the Super PACs are prohibited from coordinating.

See how attractive it would become to give to the NRSC? Bigger checks, more coordination, which allows for more seamless, smarter campaigns. Although multi-candidate PACS closely resemble national party committees in the way they seek to support and elect candidates, they are being explicitly disenfranchised.

The NRSC, and other Washington party groups, want to control the elections and McConnell is changing the rules to make the DC establishment more powerful than PACs and individual campaigns.

Remember, McConnell has made no secret of his hatred for conservative groups who dare challenge his stature in Washington. He once said organizations such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, which proudly backed candidates the NRSC spurned, such as Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, “need a punch in the nose.”

Just as the NRSC has done in the past, these new powers will be used to unfairly protect establishment senators who should have lost their previous primary elections, such as Thad Cochran, Lisa Murkowski, and others.

Inside Washington, McConnell uses these funds to control members as well. Members who vote the way Speaker McConnell wants them to vote are rewarded with monetary support from the NRSC. Members who don’t are left to fundraise on their own.

Without question, there should be campaign finance reform. But it should pass a simple test: Either the reform applies to everyone or it applies to no one. Fair is fair.

If McConnell wants to eliminate coordination limits for the NRSC he should, at the very least, be willing to do it for multi-candidate PACS that have even smaller contribution limits.

National party committees and multi-candidate PACs should be playing by the same rules. For all donations from individual donors, for all contributions to candidates, and for all coordination activities.

McConnell’s coordination rider is not reform. It’s cronyism at its worst.

Amanda Carpenter is a Contributing Editor at Conservative Review, former Communications Director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and former Speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint.

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