Maybe, maybe not. Among the many charms of campaign finance legislation is its notorious vagueness. The issue in this case is whether Huck’s Army, a supposedly independent group, is “coordinating” its phone-bank activities with Huckabee’s campaign within the meaning of the statute, but that’s just the nuts and bolts. What makes this sexy is (a) that it’s Maverick’s stalking horse whose hoof might be caught in the trap and (b) the scummy plausible-deniability game Huckabee’s been playing with groups like this for months. Pastor Huck won’t dirty his hands with negative phone calls against Romney — but Trust Huckabee, an “independent” org, happily will. They’re also suspected of coordinating with the campaign, and unlike the Huck’s Army kids, they’ve got enough political savvy among their top people to know (or guess) that the FEC might frown upon it. And so we get the best of both worlds: Innocent actors potentially stumbling into legal pitfalls and malefactors gaming the system.
For instance, a Jan. 15 account in Wired shows a Huck’s Army volunteer describing how he interacts with the Huckabee campaign.
“[Jeffrey] Quesnelle, a Catholic 20-year-old software engineer in Sterling Heights, Michigan, says that the group coordinates with the Huckabee campaign to target messages to specific voters, like white, under-30 evangelical Christian women,” the magazine’s Sarah Lai Stirland reported.
Additionally, news reports have also described Huck’s Army engaging in aggressive phone banking on behalf of Huckabee before the South Carolina primary. It appears that there was some communication between campaign staff and volunteers regarding this effort.
“Yes, we have a list that will not be overlapped with the official campaign list,” said a volunteer who posted a message at the Huck’s Army online forums. Other participants had worried about overlapping with the campaign’s efforts…
“A lot of people may be enthusiastic,” said Lawrence Noble, Counsel at Skadden Arps in Washington, DC. “They don’t know what the law is, they assume certain things, and then they go ask the campaign what they can do.”