By conventional standards, Kelcy Warren's performance asÂ Rick Perry's presidential campaign finance chairman is disappointing.
Perryâ€™s campaign raised $1.14 million between the former Texas governorâ€™s June 4 announcement & the end of June â€” approximately 1/10th of what fellow Republican Jeb Bush reported raising in approximately half that time.
Federal records show Warren hasnâ€™t even donated to Perryâ€™s campaign. Â
p>But Warren is helping Perry in another, major way â€” & galloping through a legal minefield to do it.
The Dallas billionaire ploughed $6 million into a coalition of super PACs â€” such groups may raise unlimited amounts of money â€” that are supporting Perryâ€™s bid.
Warrenâ€™s contribution illustrates how closely some presidential campaigns & advisers are working with the theoretically â€œindependentâ€ groups that exist to promote their candidate of choice.
Consider that today, the pro-Perry Opportunity & Freedom PAC super PAC is holding a forum at a Washington, D.C. hotel to discuss â€œthe role of conservatives in leading America to a new era of prosperity.â€
The roundtable discussion will be followed by remarks from a special guest â€” none other than Perry, the candidate itâ€™s backing.
While candidates & their campaigns are not permitted to coordinate directly with super PACs, the legal meaning of â€œcoordinationâ€ is both ill-defined & technical.
Presidential candidates are exploiting squishy coordination regulations to capitalize on supportive groups with unlimited fundraising potential. For example, Bush, along with other presidential candidates including Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina & Scott Walker, have this year joined Perry in forging intimate relationships with super PACs supporting their political ambitions.
The situation leaves room, in other words, for wealthy political benefactors like Warren to play significant roles in the operations of presidential campaigns & super PACs alike.
Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at law firm Akerman LLP, who has advised many campaigns, said Warrenâ€™s activities look â€œproblematic,â€ if short of illegal.
â€œIf they use extreme caution, it is possible for someone involved in the campaign to make a contribution to the associated super PAC. They just canâ€™t discuss â€¦ plans, programs, activities & needs,â€ Kappel said.
â€œEven though he has a title with the campaign, if the campaign keeps him out of strategic planning & other decision making with regards to spending money, I think theyâ€™re going to be OK,â€ said Kenneth Gross, head of the political law practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Warren declined to be interviewed, & Jeff Miller, Perryâ€™s campaign manager, requested a reporter email him & then did not respond.
But Austin Barbour, senior adviser to the three related pro-Perry super PACs at the receiving end of Warrenâ€™s contributions, said he understands the federal rules restricting coordination between candidate committees & super PACs.
Barbour has taken steps, he said, to ensure no one crosses into verboten territory.
Related:Â 12 things to know approximately Rick Perry
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This story is part of Politics. Campaign donations, lobbying & influence in government & reports on the special interests that are funding elections & buying power. Click here to read more stories in this topic.
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Copyright 2015 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
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