Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has written another million dollar check–this time, to a Super PAC called “Freedom PAC” that first popped-up last month. The contribution was disclosed in the group’s quarterly filing, submitted to the Federal Election Commission on Monday according to the Sunlight Foundation.
According to it’s website, the PAC — which lists a New York address — is devoted to “supporting strong conservative candidates in Florida,” in particular US Senate candidate Connie Mack.
I know we’re all suppose to turn a blind eye to coordination between campaigns and supportive Super PACs, but let’s connect the dots for a moment.
Dot 1: Sheldon Adelson gives $1 million to the super PAC backing Mack.
Dot 2: Political consultant Art Finkelstein is on record as working for Connie Mack’s campaign for US Senate. For example, there is this story from theTampa Bay Times about Finkelstein conducting a poll for Mack as recently as April 5. Of course, it is widely known that Finkelstein is more than just a pollster for Mack. In reality, Finkelstein is a senior — perhaps the most senior — adviser to Mack.
Dot 3: Politico reported that Finkelstein met with Adelson “in New York to discuss the possibility of a new Super PAC they’re considering starting to help the GOP capture the Senate.” Obviously, Mack defeating Bill Nelson is critical to the GOP capturing the Senate
Now, draw a line between Dots 1, 2 and 3: Art Finkelstein is working for US Senate candidate Connie Mack while preparing to set up a Super PAC to help US Senate candidates. And now Sheldon Adelson is donating to this Super PAC.
How is this not blatant, illegal coordination?
This question leads me to a story in the Washington Post about ‘How Super PAC’s really work’
“[T]he hundreds of super PACs created to help favored candidates and causes [include] highly customized, highly personalized political action committees, often created overnight when a relative or friend writes a check. The phenomenon began in the Republican presidential primary, when a handful of millionaires lined up to support their candidates through specially targeted super PACs, including one funded by Jon Huntsman Jr.’s billionaire father. The same kinds of very personalized groups have sprouted in House and Senate races across the country, inundating voters with ads and mailings and testing the limits of federal rules forbidding coordination between fundraising committees and candidates. …
“One common thread in many of the races is allegations that super PACs are improperly coordinating their activities with candidates. … Elliot S. Berke, a Republican campaign finance lawyer at McGuireWoods in Washington, said super PACs and other independent groups have wide flexibility as long as they avoid direct contact with candidates or their campaigns. ‘The legal question really isn’t who is behind the super PAC from a relationship perspective … Friends or relatives setting up a super PAC to support someone’s candidacy may create political questions and even trigger an FEC complaint by political opponents, but it doesn’t on its face violate any law or regulation.’ “
Let me bold and underline the key sentence in that story: “Wide flexibility as long as they avoid direct contact with candidates or their campaigns.”
How is Art Finkelstein – pollster to candidate Connie Mack, facilitator of a Super PAC – not doing the exact opposite of that?
Someone at the Federal Election Commission needs to do their own dot-connecting.