Calls are growing from watchdog groups for President Obama’s Justice Department to launch a federal investigation into what appears to be illegal fundraising by Jeb Bush.
In a letter to the Justice Department, the group Democracy21 argues that Jeb Bush is a presidential candidate, and that his fundraising scheme is a clear violation of the law, “The fact of his candidacy is so apparent, and so overt, that Bush himself has found it hard to maintain what is really the ongoing charade of his purported non-candidacy….Bush’s proclamations that he is not a candidate are contradicted by the facts and by the applicable law. In all pertinent respects, Bush has been engaging in activities as an active candidate at least since January 2015. He has been traveling extensively to early primary states since January 2015, and has been speaking and organizing in those states.”
The letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues, “Bush has also been heavily involved in fundraising for the Right to Rise Super PAC, which is raising funds solely for the purpose of making expenditures to further Bush’s presidential campaign. An individual becomes a “candidate” if the individual raises “funds in excess of what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities or undertakes activities designed to amass campaign funds that would be spent after he or she becomes a candidate….” 11 C.F.R. § 100.72(b). By these standards, Bush is a “candidate.” The fact that he has refrained from formally announcing his candidacy is not determinative. If Bush is raising and spending money as a candidate, he is a candidate under the law, whether or not he declares himself to be one.”
Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said, “There are powerful grounds to conclude that the political charade being perpetrated on the American people by former Governor Jeb Bush and his associated individual-candidate Super PAC is illegal. The same is true for other presidential campaigns and their associated Super PACs and we also plan to ask the Justice Department to investigate those as well. The Bush scheme, however, appears to be the most blatant and brazen effort to date to circumvent and evade the candidate contribution limits enacted to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption….The Justice Department has the authority and the responsibility to prevent the 2016 presidential candidates from engaging in the most massive violations of the campaign finance laws in the nation’s history. The Justice Department needs to act to protect the integrity of the presidency and our democracy.”
The Bush scheme, which Scott Walker and other Republican presidential candidates are using variations of, was illegal from the beginning, but the illegality became obvious when Bush slipped up and admitted that he was running for president.
Bush is trying to use Citizens United to illegally fundraise his way to the White House. Democrats are familiar with the Bush family history of cheating in elections, but Jeb Bush is flaunting his abuse of the law. It is important that people speak out on this issue before Election Day, and not let Bush get away with illegal activities.
If you would like to make your voice heard, please sign our petition calling on Attorney General Lynch to launch a federal investigation into Jeb Bush.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association