Hillary Has Issues With Super-PACs, But She’s Not About to ‘Unilaterally Disarm’

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Hillary Rodham Clinton, a 2016 Democratic presidential contender, asks the audience to join her in praying for the people of Baltimore during a speech at the David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum, Wednesday, April 29, 2015 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Hillary Clinton.Photo: Mark Lennihan/Corbis

A few days after officially announcing that she’s running for president, Hillary Clinton came out strong on campaign finance reform, saying, “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment.” On Wednesday she made another bold move on the issue when she began courting Priorities USA Action donors, marking “the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has fully embraced” the super-PAC supporting their campaign, according to the New York Times.

Clinton is currently on a three-day fund-raising trip to California, and the paper reports that while raising money for her campaign fund (which can only accept a mere $2,700 from each individual), she’ll meet with Priorities donors in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The super-PAC, which can accept unlimited donations, raised money for President Obama in 2012, but he was slow to endorse the group and never personally appeared at its events.

You may be thinking: But wait, isn’t it illegal for candidates to coordinate with super-PACs? Well, sort of. Under FEC rules, a declared candidate like Clinton can appear at super-PAC events and even ask for donations of up to $5,000. They just can’t be around when the group solicits larger sums. Plus, the rules are rarely enforced, and candidates find creative ways around them. Most notably, Jeb Bush will reportedly have his super-PAC Right to Rise run major aspects of his campaign.

An anonymous Clinton campaign official argued that despite her desire to reform campaign finance, she still has to keep up with the various Republican super-PACs injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign. “With some Republican candidates reportedly setting up and outsourcing their entire campaign to super-PACs, and the Koch brothers pledging $1 billion alone for the 2016 campaign, Democrats have to have the resources to fight back,” said the Clinton official. “There is too much at stake for our future for Democrats to unilaterally disarm.” But don’t worry, they’ll all get serious about campaign finance reform once they’ve been elected.