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Elections are expensive! New FEC data drops by midnight

Elections are expensive! New FEC data drops by midnight

…very expensive.

Yard signs. 4x8s. Pens. T-shirts. Bumper stickers. Magnets. Hats. Staff. Transportation. Food. Lodging. Web development. Graphic design. Ad buys. Social media outreach. Video production. Event planning.

On and on it goes—political campaigns are expensive. Even on a statewide or local level, it takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources just to build of the kind of name recognition it takes to run a solid campaign and win an election. Fundraising is key, and sometimes you’re forced to prioritize it—but in America in 2015, we’re fully in the thrall of slick, expensive-looking marketing campaigns, so don’t expect that to go away any time soon.

Tonight marks the first FEC filing deadline of the cycle, which means that voters will have their first opportunity to take a peek into the world of PACS, Super-PACS, and campaign finance. In the reports, you’ll be able to see the names of everyone who donated at least $200 between April 1 and June 30; these filings also show how candidates in turn use that money to pay for workspace, staffing, consulting, and advertising.

Candidates on both sides of the aisle have already raised around $377 million dollars, over half of which will back just two candidates: Hillary Clinton and Jeb(!) Bush.

More via Fox Business:

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has raised $45 million in checks of $2,700 or less for her campaign. Priorities USA Action, a super PAC that counts on seven-figure donors, raised an additional $15 million.

Bush’s money looks different. Before he officially declared his candidacy, the former Florida governor spent the first six months of the year raising huge sums of money for Right to Rise, a super PAC that’s boosting his bid to win the Republican nomination. That group says it has raised a record $103 million. Bush’s presidential campaign, which officially began on June 15, collected $11.5 million from contributors.

Outside groups are furthering the ambitions of at least four other Republican presidential aspirants: Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In each case, the fundraising for the outside groups helping them is outpacing the fundraising for their own campaigns.

You won’t be seeing numbers from John Kasich, Scott Walker, or Chris Christie—they all launched their campaigns too recently to be included in the first filing.

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Bush and Clinton are pulling in the most cash for their campaigns. Other candidates, however, have done well for themselves. Marco Rubio has pulled in $44.5 million, and Ted Cruz has padded his coffers with just over $50 million. Bobby Jindal hasn’t done as well, however, and is hovering under the $10 million mark. Rick Perry has taken in just over a million.

The media is falling over itself to publish think pieces about how PACS have changed the political landscape; not far behind those stories are stories about “bundlers,” or volunteer fundraisers that, if effective, have the potential to raise millions. Jeb Bush, to his credit, has plans to release the names of his bundlers:

The announcement, which comes as Mr. Bush and other presidential candidates are preparing to submit detailed financial information to the Federal Election Commission, makes Mr. Bush the first — and so far only — Republican candidate to pledge to disclose his bundlers.

“Governor Bush is committed to transparency,” said Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bush. “We plan to release a list of individuals bundling donations for the campaign for the first two quarters by the time we file our next F.E.C. report.”

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, has refused to disclose the names of his bundlers; spokespeople for Marco Rubio and Scott Walker haven’t responded to media inquires on the subject.

So…no surprises so far. We knew support for Bush, Cruz, Clinton, and Rubio would be strong; then again, this is just the beginning. This is just a filing deadline—not a fundraising deadline, so prepare yourselves for a deluge of e-mails from these candidates, coming to an inbox near you.

The Guardian is liveblogging the releases here.


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An urgently needed reform is to require credit card verification on online donations. Obama’s team turned that default OFF in both 2008 and 2012, enabling them to accept donations from Mickey Mouse and other fictional characters illegally from overseas. We can’t prove they did receive illegal monies, but why else deliberate turn off verification?

NC Mountain Girl | July 15, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Much of this money is wasted because it mostly goes to line the pockets of the DC based campaign consultancy class of each party. But woe to the candidate who won’t pay the hired guns to produce often ineffective campaign materials. The candidate who spurns the consultancy class will be trashed by these mercenaries to the media.

I once had a candidates mother tell me that she one pulled all the flyers sent by the RNC from her neighbors mailboxes. She was a retired advertising manager and was embarrassed to have her son’s name associated with anything as shoddy as that flyer. I had to agree. It was a one size fits all approach that may have been appropriate for some places around the nation but which was not for their particularly affluent slice of suburbia.