South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is known as a conservative fundraising darling. But until now, he’s raised his money the old-fashioned way: through a PAC subject to normal contribution limits.
Now, Sen. DeMint has decided the new Citizens United fundraising frenzy is too lucrative to pass up. Politico has reported that DeMint is “cutting formal ties” with the PAC he founded so that it may become a super PAC. (The super PAC comes complete with a website, senateaction.com, which goes live today.)
Of course, “cutting formal ties” is just 2012’s euphemism for sitting politicians’ penchant for soliciting gobs of money from millionaires and billionaires without adhering to constraints from pesky laws that still forbid such solicitations.
DeMint, like so many others this year, plans to skirt the law governing proper fundraising conduct for elected officials in exchange for a spot at the money trough filled with cash from corporations and the wealthiest individuals.
Sen. Jim DeMint is cutting formal ties to his wildly successful small-donor fundraising machine, the Senate Conservatives Fund, so that it can form a super PAC, POLITICO has learned.
The super PAC will be able to raise and spend without limits, letting the South Carolina Republican's operatives make runs at the kind of mega donors who have redefined the 2012 fundraising season…
DeMint, who pioneered the art of using a leadership PAC to spend on ads, literature and fundraising appeals for other candidates, isn't giving up much by severing his formal relationship with SCF. Under federal election law, he can still advise SCF — as long as the PAC doesn't endorse him — and it will be run, as it always has been, by longtime DeMint operative Matt Hoskins.
The only limitation: DeMint can't make big-money asks himself, though he may appear at events — including fundraisers. And surely anyone willing to cut a six- or seven-figure check will know it's his super PAC.
Not only is DeMint turning away from a democratic, small-dollar operation in favor of the richest power brokers; his new super PAC moves him to the thin edge of illegality.
Under existing law, it is illegal for sitting officials to ask for Sheldon Adelson-sized donations -- explicitly or implicitly. Sure, one probably won’t get a recording of Sen. DeMint outright asking for a $10 million check. But does anyone really think that sums of that magnitude aren’t implicitly expected when DeMint comes calling on behalf of his newly minted super PAC? Not a chance.
Today’s news is just more evidence that the super PAC era is perverting our politics at a rapid pace -- and when corporate politicians can simply be bought by big-money interests, everyday voters are the ones who pay the price.