A pattern emerges from the leaked e-mails within the Hillary Clinton circle that looks familiar, and not just in relation to the Clinton Foundation and State Department. Earlier e-mails suggested that Team Hillary engaged in potentially illegal coordination with outside groups run by George Soros. A new set shows the campaign’s attorney teaching staff how to coordinate without getting prosecuted:
In the email, Clinton attorney Marc Elias outlined what is basically a strategy for steering large campaign donors to the super PAC without breaking the law.
Elias told Clinton campaign officials it would be OK to tell staff at the super PAC: “Donor A works in financial services and has been a long-time contributor. I think she’d be willing to do six figures for Priorities.”
But not recommended, writes Elias, would be for the Clinton campaign official to say to a super PAC official: “I want you to call Donor A and ask for $250,000.”
What’s the difference between the two? Not much, but arguably enough to keep the FEC at bay. One is a suggestion, the other is direction — even if both of them have exactly the same intent and impact. The memo makes this even more plain on fundraising:
“From time to time, Priorities might request [Hillary for America] to speak to prospective donors about Priorities – either before or after Priorities’ contact with the donor,” the attorneys from the D.C. law firm Perkins Coie tell the Clinton aides in the Elias memo.
“When HFA staff or consultants speak to these prospective donors about Priorities, they must include a hard money ask (for $5,000 or less) during the course of the conversation. We have provided you with scripts and talking points for such conversations.”
Even then, though, this seems to skirt pretty close to the edge. Can campaigns share donor info with super-PACs without crossing the line on coordination? Elias might know that better than anyone, but if so, then the bar on “coordination” sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is in reality.
That’s not terribly surprising, either. Supposedly, super-PACS operate independently of political campaigns, but no one really believes that. All during the opening days of primary season in early 2015, candidates would enter the race along with their companion super-PAC, staffed by some trusted longterm aide or friend who would know exactly what the candidate wanted … by osmosis, natch. Everyone trades accusations of coordination, but campaigns are adept enough to keep up appearances well enough to fend off actual complaints.
This demonstrates just how hypocritical “campaign finance reform” demands have been, especially Hillary Clinton’s years-long tirade against the Citizens United decision. Hillary doesn’t want “big money out of politics” — she wants it controlled and shielded from public view so she can exploit it for herself. The proper reform for campaign finance is to eliminate tax deductions for PACs and super-PACs, end contribution limits, and incentivize the money to flow to the candidates directly and make the entire transaction record transparent. That makes the candidates and their parties directly responsible for messaging, while allowing everyone else to keep their First Amendment right to free speech without government interference.
In the end, as these e-mails show, the result is the same — the candidates are controlling the operations anyway. This Byzantine system just allows them a fig leaf of deniability that insults the intelligence of voters.