USA Today: Some Super PACs Are All in the Family

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 12:58 PM

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A new brood of family-run super PACs is pouring money into U.S. congressional races, with relatives dropping six-figure sums in support of sons, nephews, or other offspring who happen to be candidates, USA Today reported.

These nominally independent, outside super-PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but are prohibited by federal law from directly coordinating their efforts with any individual campaigns.

All of which requires some tap dancing by Gabriel Rothblatt, underdog Democratic candidate for a U.S. House seat in central Florida's Space Coast, USA Today reported.

Rothblatt, 31, is the indirect beneficiary, legally speaking, of $225,000 dollars from an entity called Space PAC, which belongs to Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius Satellite Radio and CEO of Maryland bio-tech company United Therapeutics.

The senior Rothblatt is the candidate's father but underwent gender-reassignment surgery, USA Today reported.

The candidate told USA Today he didn't know about his father's PAC activities until yard signs promoting Rothblatt for Congress started turning up on local lawns during primary season — and generating neighbor complaints, which Gabriel Rothblatt said he's powerless to address.

"I can't do anything," he told USA Today. "I can't touch the signs myself. It would look like I'm coordinating" with Space PAC.

He also said he's not talking with his father while running against three-term Republican Rep. Bill Posey.

USA Today counted more than 40 super PACs that have raised at least $100,000 this year and which list fewer than five donors. Among those were Space PAC and some others with conspicuous family ties.

One, Ensuring a Conservative Nebraska, was bankrolled by Rupert Dunklau, great-uncle of Republican Senate primary winner Ben Sasse. Most of the $100,000 the super PAC raised went toward an attack ad against Sasse's rival in the primary, USA Today reported.

One campaign-finance watchdog told USA Today this is how people evade limits on individual contributions.

"Instead of cutting a huge check directly to a candidate … you cut that huge check to a group that was set up by a former employee of the candidate or a family member of the candidate," said Paul Ryan of Campaign Legal Center.


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