On Monday, POLITICO reported that at least a dozen people considering a presidential campaign in 2024 already have affiliated dark-money groups who can raise money and build campaigns on their behalf — and that for now, they can completely shield their donors from any public disclosure.
"At least a dozen potential candidates for president in 2024 have active nonprofit groups aligned with them, according to a review of corporate filings, campaign disclosures and financial records obtained by POLITICO," reported Scott Bland. "What they all have in common is the ability to pay staffers, fund polling and policy research, run ads and accept money from megadonors without divulging those funders’ names — or much information about any spending until many months after the fact. It’s the latest escalation in a fundraising arms race that has seen personal benefactors, super PACs and now secret money become common building blocks of presidential campaigns."
Once any candidate actually declares a campaign, they will be bound by disclosure requirements for fundraising and expenditures — but until then, the report noted, "in the absence of new legislation or an enforcement crackdown from tax or campaign-finance regulators, prospective presidents can use nonprofits to shield their donors — and much about their preparations — from the public eye."
The largest of these groups are those supporting President Joe Biden, whose Building Back Together has already spent over $22 million, and former President Donald Trump's America First Works, which had $7.7 million on hand after the 2020 campaign. But groups are popping up for several other hopefuls including former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) — all Republicans interested in succeeding or overthrowing Trump, even though Trump appears likely to run again. And some Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ), have groups of their own.
One of the most well developed of these efforts to explore an alternate Republican campaign is that of Pence.
"Pence has already given a handful of major policy speeches over the last year and is likely to continue the series working off major themes in his new 'Freedom Agenda,' according to a person familiar with Advancing American Freedom’s plans," noted the report. "The group is also convening big donors, like at the retreat it held last year in Jackson, Wyo."
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