This particular campaign story arc has been rolling out over the course of the week but it’s looking like a smart move on the part of The Donald. Part of his appeal to those preferring an outsider candidate is the fact that Trump will largely self-fund his campaign (with the more recent addition of accepting private, small donor dollars) leaving him free of the influence of the Big Dollar. But some Super PACs popped up which have been supporting the real estate mogul, some with ties to his business empire. This has drawn a lot of criticism in the media with charges of hypocrisy filling the airwaves. Earlier this week Trump took steps to correct the issue, telling the PACs to cease and desist. (Washington Post)
Donald Trump has asked the nine super PACs that appear to support his presidential campaign to stop raising money using his name, likeness and slogans and to return any donations they have already received. Trump then challenged his Republican and Democratic opponents to do the same and reject “dark money.”
The existence of these super PACs — with names like Make America Great Again and the Art of the Deal — did not match Trump’s campaign promise to self-finance his campaign and only accept small donations that are limited by federal law. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Trump’s campaign has multiple connections to the Make America Great Again PAC, run by Colorado-based operative Mike Ciletti. That PAC announced Thursday night it is shutting down.
This is most likely a win-win for The Donald no matter how you slice it. It’s not as if he actually needs the Super PAC money (unlike many less well funded candidates) and by taking a brickbat to them he gets to stick it in the eye of his competitors. But some of the charges which were being hurled are rather sketchy at best. First of all, saying that a Super PAC is being run by people “with ties to” the candidates is rather laughable. How many complete strangers are going to start up an expensive operation like that for someone? Pretty much every major PAC out there has people “with ties to” the candidate they are supporting.
The other question here is what Trump could really do about it. The laws which prevent him from coordinating with the Super PACs would also seemingly forbid him giving them any orders, up to and including telling them to close up shop. But Trump isn’t claiming that sort of power. Instead, he seems to be using his business and legal experience to forbid their using his name, likeness and image to raise money. That would probably carry a lot of weight in court if it came down to it, though the courts likely don’t have much experience with politicians taking people to court to stop them from helping them.
But it probably won’t need to wind up in a courtroom anyway. Word of the orders from on high has made it around the nation’s political donor class already. Who wants to sink their cash into a group which has been publicly chastised by the person you’re seeking to help? As I said at the top, it looks like a rather cagey move. This costs Trump nothing he couldn’t get elsewhere and allows him to turn the attack on his campaign into a weapon to use against the rest of the field.