Jeb’s leadership PAC files ironic FEC complaint against Trump, citing coordination

I’m not sure which part of this is funnier: that Jeb Bush’s PAC filed a FEC complaint that cited illegal coordination between a campaign and an outside organization, or that Donald Trump is on the receiving end of said complaint.

In a letter obtained by Politico, Charles Spies and James Tyrell, counsel for Right to Rise PAC, Jeb Bush’s leadership PAC, advised Alan Garten, general counsel for The Trump Organization, that their threat to sue Right to Rise over ads attacking Trump’s record was not only misguided, but was also illegal.

Trump is famous for threatening to sue pretty much anyone who doesn’t speak highly of him, but as Spies and Tyrell point out, Right to Rise PAC “is a federal ‘Leadership PAC’ that has never produced, and has no plans to produce, advertisements against [Trump], or any political candidate for that matter.” As they continue:

It is possible you are confusing RTR with any number of federal independent expenditure-only committees (i.e. “Super PACs”) that have exercised their First Amendment rights to educate the public about your client’s public statements and stances on important public policy issues.

Not only is is possible, it’s likely. Jeb Bush has an array of allied organizations that all operate independently from his campaign, and they are all named something along the lines of “Right to Rise.” So while it’s a rather funny mistake for Trump’s lawyer to have mailed their cease and desist letter to the wrong organization, they aren’t the first to have confused Right to Rise PAC, which doesn’t run ads, with Right to Rise Super PAC, which does.

However, Spies and Tyrell weren’t done taking Trump’s lawyer to the woodshed, writing:

…although RTR has no plans to produce any advertisements against your client, we are intrigued (but not surprised) by your continued efforts to silence critics of your client’s campaign by employing litigious threats and bullying. Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing cease and desist letters to Vladmir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel?…If you have the time between bankruptcy filings and editing reality show contracts, we urge you to flip through the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. If you client is so thin-skinned that he cannot handle his critics’ presentation of his own public statements, policies and record to the voting public, and if such communications hurt his feelings, he is welcome to purchase airtime to defend his record. After all, a wall can be built around many things, but not around the First Amendment.

And, finally, after getting their digs in at Trump, who is currently demolishing Jeb Bush by nearly 27 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average, Spies and Tyrell get to the actual point:

Lastly, in light of your confusion over the difference between Leadership PACs and Super PACs, we have to assume you may also be unaware of the FEC’s prohibition on a federal candidate’s use of corporate resources for campaign purposes. Although your client may think he is above the law and be accustomed to using lawsuits to bail out his failed business deals, the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC’s Regulations nonetheless apply to him and his campaign. Perhaps the attached complaint, filed today, will serve as a reminder of your client’s legal obligations under federal election laws. Just as your client is attempting to quickly learn the basics of foreign policy, we wish you personally the best in your attempts to learn election law.

This would all be well and hilarious, were it not for the fact that Jeb’s network of outside organizations have themselves been the subject of multiple FEC complaints, citing the very coordination rules that his leadership PAC is currently using to ding Trump’s company. If there is one candidate this cycle who has expressed not just a knack for, but an active interest in, finding ways around the FEC’s coordination rules, it’s been Jeb Bush.

You’ll remember that Jeb Bush accidentally announced he was running for president at an event put on by Right to Rise Super PAC, and continued to fundraise for the organization in the weeks that followed. He has cited his Super PAC’s fundraising figures as his own, suggesting that he doesn’t consider there to be much of a wall between his Super PAC and his official campaign committee. That could have something to do with the fact that the two organizations are using the same consulting firm — for the same purposes.

None of this has mattered because the FEC is deadlocked to the point of uselessness. To drive home the point, one FEC commissioner has even likened the organization to male nipples. So Jeb won’t be held accountable for his probable violations of FEC rules, and neither will Trump.

But we we’ll likely see a few more snarky letters from high-profile lawyers before the campaign is all said and done.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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5 Responses to “Jeb’s leadership PAC files ironic FEC complaint against Trump, citing coordination”

  1. 1jetpackangel says:

    Hey, male nipples have their uses: they make great chew toys.

  2. seekingtruth says:

    Jeb’s campaign has the FEC looking into for two donations allegedly made by donors trying to hide themselves by a invalid corporation that had no profits, assets or sales. One of the donors is supposed to be a relative. The Bush crime family blaming others for what they themselves do.

  3. 2karmanot says:


  4. BeccaM says:

    The Trump Organization (which sounds an awful lot like an organized crime gang) has the world’s worst lawyers. Remember how back in July, Trump’s ‘special counsel’ Michael Cohen said there was no such thing as marital rape?

  5. BearEyes says:

    I learned a long time ago that whatever my opponent accuses me of is the very first thing I look at with him.

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