On May 29th, businessman Shaun McCutcheon (of McCutcheon v. FEC fame) filed a request with the Federal Election Commission to issue an advisory opinion on whether he can transfer the $50,000 that he personally contributed to his campaign committee, McCutcheon for Freedom, to the Libertarian National Committee without violating campaign finance law. McCutcheon was a candidate for the Libertarian nomination for President during the current election cycle.
The official questions presented in the request are as follows:
1.May Shaun McCutcheon transfer $50,000 of the personal funds he has deposited into the account of MFF, his authorized principal presidential candidate committee, to the general, unrestricted federal account of the Libertarian National Committee, Inc. (“LNC”) (FEC ID #C00255695), a national political party committee?
2. If so, after making the transfer described above in #1, may McCutcheon deposit unlimited amounts of additional personal funds into MFF’s account, and then transfer them to the general, unrestricted federal account of the LNC? If so, is there a date on which it would become illegal for him to do so?
3.May McCutcheon deposit unlimited amounts of additional personal funds into MFF’s account and then transfer them to the general, unrestricted federal account of the Republican National Committee (“RNC”), a national political party committee, without regard to 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a)(1)(B)’s limits? If so, is there a date on which it would become illegal for him to do so?
McCutcheon’s request is meant to test whether former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $18 million donation to the Democratic National Committee in March from his leftover campaign funds violated campaign finance law. Bloomberg contributed $1.07 billion of his own funds to his failed campaign. Individuals can donate no more than $35,500 per year to political parties.
Former FEC commissioners Brad Smith and Hans von Spakovsky were unsure about how the Commission would rule on the request. However, both indicated that a decision in favor of allowing such transfers had the potential to change the campaign finance landscape in the future.
In December 2019, the Republican National Lawyers Association filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Bloomberg engaged in “knowing and willful violations of federal campaign finance law, through his use of his personally owned media empire, to influence a federal election in support of his own candidacy in opposition to the Trump campaign.” Bloomberg News’ willingness to openly avoid investigating Democratic candidates was problematic during the height of the primaries and remains problematic as we move towards the 2020 General Election.