Campaign watchdog groups ask FEC to investigate Perry over ads

Posted on: December 16th, 2011 by Mary Tuma 4 Comments

Campaign watchdog groups are asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s campaign committee, web site (RickPerry.org) and pro-Perry Super PAC “Make Us Great Again” for possible violations of campaign finance law.

The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed the complaint Thursday, arguing Make Us Great Again produced video of Perry and delivered it to the candidate’s campaign for free, when it should have been classified as an “in-kind” contribution for an amount they estimate at more than $2,500 – a figure that surpasses the candidate contribution limit and violates the rule against Super PAC contributions to candidates.

“Super PACs are out there raising unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and labor unions based on the already suspect legal theory that they can’t corrupt candidates because they don’t make contributions to them,” said CLC attorney Paul S. Ryan in a statement.  “This type of video sharing makes a mockery of the contribution limits and the notion that Super PACs are independent of candidates.  The FEC must investigate and crack down on Perry and Make Us Great Again if the Super PAC gave this video footage to the campaign.”

The Super PAC is led by Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff and Texas lobbyist, an association that has drawn criticism of its own, as FEC guidelines state Super PACs are barred from coordinating with a candidate’s campaign. Additionally, Toomey shares ownership of an island off the coast of New Hampshire with Perry’s top campaign strategist, Dave Carney. The ambitious Super PAC aims to spend $55 million on getting Perry into the White House.

“The use by the Perry presidential campaign of the same video footage contained in an ad run by the Super PAC supporting Governor Perry raises serious concerns about whether the Super PAC is really independent from the Perry campaign, as required by law,” added Wertheimer.  “This matter requires an FEC investigation to determine if the campaign finance laws have been violated.”