Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee held a fundraiser for his Hope for America PAC. It raised $500,000 from 350 people present, according to the blog of the Arkansas Republican Assembly. It got some good press and blog attention from Redstate, Kos, and others. But something is off here. And that’s why the Arkansas Times is unimpressed, calling it "puny" for a 10 year governor with many chits to collect on. Here’s why.
The "PAC" is not a federally regulated PAC that can be turned into an exploratory committee. The disclaimer on the PAC’s website says:
Hope For America PAC may accept unlimited contribution amounts and donors may give both corporate and individual contributions.
In other words, this is a soft-money operation that pays for him to travel around and meet people. It is a Virginia-registered and regulated PAC. Indeed, one Arkansas paper has written a story suggesting that this whole operationcould violate federal campaign finance laws. It quotes a DC campaign-finance interest grouper saying:
seems to be pushing as close as possible to the line. He doesn’t mention the word ‘presidential’ but I can’t contemplate another reason for that [language ], particularly the reference to critical 2008 states. I suppose there are arguably other interpretations. But he definitely appears to be pushing as close as possible without triggering federal law.
The article lists 10 donors who gave a combined $125,000, 1/4 of the take. Almost all of that was corporate money. In other words, this money can’t be turned over. If Huckabee hires a staffer in New Hampshire and that staffer says that Huckabee is running for President, then the whole thing is illegal.
This is a sham. When he can raise hard money, let’s see. But this is all hype and spin, and it suggests that he can’t raise money, not that he can.
I should point out that Race42008 has a post from early December suggesting that Huckabee was going to try to do this. I didn’t really pay attention until I saw that Huckabee was getting some buzz for this sham.