DeSantis’ project effort moves forward after campaign finance watchdog stalemate

But Ready for Ron argues that it’s compiling a petition, not a mailing list, and that the PAC should be able to freely share information with DeSantis whenever it chooses.

The group asked the Federal Election Commission if its plan to share its petition with DeSantis for free is allowed either now, when DeSantis is not a federal candidate, or later if he takes more formal steps to run for office. the presidency, which is widely anticipated.

On Thursday, the FEC remained at an impasse on the request for an opinion from the group. The commission voted to reject a draft advisory opinion that would have explicitly blessed Ready for Ron’s plan to freely share information with DeSantis before he took formal steps to consider a presidential run, but not after. But the committee split 3-3 along partisan lines on another draft advisory opinion that said the PAC cannot provide DeSantis’ names and contact information at any time, leaving the decision in some sort of limbo.

“We moved the ball in the right direction,” Dan Backer, an attorney who represents Ready for Ron, said in an interview after the hearing.

The FEC is likely to again embark on some kind of advisory opinion, with commissioners asking staff to draft a response that merges the commonalities between the two projects, apparently in the post-“water test” phase. a somewhat nebulous phase on the legal level. phase where a potential candidate is considering a campaign and spending money to explore it but has not officially declared their candidacy.

But Backer said the group would be aggressive and did not rule out lawsuits if the commission tried to erect barriers. “I want the commission to tell me what exactly ‘testing the waters’ is because my rights are not held to an amorphous standard,” he said.

He also argued that because DeSantis hadn’t entered that phase of “testing the waters” yet, the group was free to share the petition — and contact information — with DeSantis whenever they wanted, although he does not intend to do so imminently.

But already, this list is probably valuable on its own. Ready for Ron collected about 43,750 signatures Wednesday morning, according to Backer, and is signing 1,000 more people every day, with the pace picking up. He said his “personal goal” would be to reach 1 million signatures by the end of the year.

When contacted for comment, a DeSantis campaign spokesperson pointed to a memo from the campaign’s legal counsel that said “Governor’s supporters should understand that contributions made to the PAC do not benefit the Governor.” DeSantis or his re-election as Governor of Florida. Fox News first reported on this memo in June.

Campaign finance watchdog groups that opposed Ready for Ron’s proposal, arguing it would open the door even further to candidates circumventing contribution limits, found a silver lining in Thursday’s deliberations, even with the dead end. Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform at the Campaign Legal Center, said the commissioners seemed skeptical of Ready for Ron’s attempts to define their list as anything other than a mailing list, which the FEC already has. established as something of value and subject to contribution limits.

“If he walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, he’s a duck,” he said. “And the [regulations] specifically say that this particular duck is an example of an in-kind contribution.

Gary Fineout contributed to this report.


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