The race to become Missouri's Republican candidate for governor is, to put it charitably, a shitshow of clashing egos
and bulging bank accounts. On Monday, one of the candidates' campaign war chests got a little bulgier — by about $2 million dollars.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
notes, the $1.975 million donation to Eric Greitens' campaign this week marks the single largest political contribution in Missouri history
to an individual candidate.
But where did that money come from? We know that it was donated by a federally registered campaign committee, or "super PAC," called “SEALs for Truth." And... that's about it.
Why the mystery? Timing has something to do with it. The date of the group's donation to Greitens means it avoided a June 30 deadline for reporting second-quarter contributions, so "SEALS for Truth" won't have to disclose its financial info until October, long after the August 2 primary.
But there's a far more ingenious (and perhaps troubling) aspect to this donation. By law, a super PAC can accept unlimited amounts of money, but it cannot donate that cash directly to a federal campaign or political party. A super PAC like "SEALS for Truth," for example, would be breaking federal law if it contributed directly to a presidential or congressional campaign.
But donating to a state campaign like Greitens'? It turns out there's no law against that.
From the Post-Dispatch
A Federal Elections Commission spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that, as a super PAC, “SEALs for Truth” would be barred from giving any money directly to a congressional or presidential campaign — but that the FEC has no jurisdiction if it sends that money to a Missouri state-level candidate.
Missouri election officials have said previously that they have no way to restrict money donated from federal PACs to state candidates, as long as it’s disclosed publicly.
Basically, "SEALS for Truth" has managed to fashion a loophole that spans state and federal election laws. As a super PAC, it gets to keep its donors' identities anonymous until the quarterly reporting deadline in October, and because the group is funneling money to a state campaign, it avoids violating laws prohibiting direct donations to federal campaigns.
Now, before you begin building a Greitens effigy and getting ready to toss a match: It's worth remembering that his gubernatorial opponents are themselves taking in massive amounts of money
. Tax-hating financier Rex Sinquefield has dumped almost $4 million into the campaign of former Missouri House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. The only reason this donation is "the biggest" is because Sinquefield parceled out his contributions in smaller sums. Businessman John Brunner has spent millions of his own money to finance his campaign. And this week, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder received a total of $1 million from David Humphreys and his sister Sarah Atkins.
Ah, democracy in action.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_ Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com