Statement by Common Cause President Miles Rapoport on FEC complaints against Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker

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  • Dale Eisman

It’s disheartening to see men who aspire to our nation’s highest office begin their pursuit of it by collectively flouting the law, but the complaints filed Tuesday at the Federal Election Commission by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 make a persuasive case that Govs. Bush, O’Malley and Walker and Sen. Santorum have done just that.

Criss-crossing the country, with high-profile stops in key primary and caucus states and closed door meetings with prospective big dollar donors, these four insist with a straight face that they’re not even “testing the waters” for a future campaign. For the moment at least, this deceit is allowing them to raise money for their campaigns free from the limits and disclosure requirements set by federal law to protect all of us from corruption.

While she was careful not to comment on the specifics of the complaints against Bush, O’Malley, Walker and Santorum, FEC Chair Ann Ravel authored a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday that signaled her seriousness about putting a stop to this nonsense. “Once individuals raise or spend even a modest sum of money — $5,000 — while considering a candidacy or actually campaigning, or consent to someone else spending that money on their behalf, they are either exploring a run for office or they are candidates. There is no such thing as pre-testing the waters,” she declared.

Ravel is right. If her fellow commissioners are at all interested in re-establishing their agency as a legitimate enforcer of campaign finance law, they’ll follow her lead and put their partisanship aside, investigate these complaints promptly and thoroughly and order these men and all prospective candidates to abide by the law.

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