Post 2009 Citizens United SCOTUS decision, 2012 was a test run in using Super-PACs to replace campaign contributions by the electorate. The following election cycle (2014 mid-terms) took the earlier approach and injected steroids into the plan; insuring all of the GOPe incumbents were protected by Super-PAC shields.
Now in the 2016 race we are seeing Wall Street funded Super-PACs actually replace campaigns entirely. The New York Times showcases how they do it in a great expose’ of the Carly Fiorina campaign. This finance method is exactly how a big part of the GOPe road map was constructed.
LEXINGTON, S.C. — The table festooned with red “Carly for America” placards arrived hours before the candidate. Political operatives took up positions outside the front door to catch supporters of Carly Fiorina, the corporate executive turned Republican presidential contender, and gather their contact information before steering them inside to the room where she would speak.
But the table, the placards and the workers did not belong to Mrs. Fiorina’s campaign. They were there because of the “super PAC” supporting her run for president.
The Federal Election Commission forbids direct coordination between campaigns and super PACs, lest candidates effectively rely almost entirely on the huge, unlimited donations of a small number of billionaires. But in 2016, the groups are aggressively exploiting gray areas and loopholes in the rules, few of which the commission — deadlocked with its three Republican and three Democratic members — has hastened to close.
One of the most important openings is the simplest: Candidates and super PACs are free to coordinate their plans if the information is shared in public view.
That exception has taken on extraordinary power in the post-Citizens United campaign world, where candidates can give super PACs B-roll for campaign ads by posting video on YouTube, and campaign managers can signal a preference for positive advertising by alerting their Twitter followers.
Mrs. Fiorina and other candidates who have depended the most on the unlimited money raised by allied super PACs have taken it a step further: making travel schedules available, then letting the outside groups arrange and finance the events.
Under the rules, Mrs. Fiorina’s super PAC — whose name, Carly for America, makes it sound anything but independent — could not even call her campaign’s staff members to see where and when she was headed next. But Mrs. Fiorina has cleverly sidestepped that prohibition: Her campaign has created a public Google calendar, which it updates weeks into the future, showing the events she has planned.
“Essentially, it inoculates a case of coordination by making it public,” said Kenneth A. Gross, a lawyer who specializes in campaign finance. “As long as it’s not hidden in a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game and meets a reasonable definition of being public, it is a way to avoid running afoul of the coordination rules.” (continue reading the entire expose’)