Following his failed presidential bid earlier this year, Mike Bloomberg donated the $18 million he had left over to the Democratic National Committee.
It turns out that the little-noticed transfer of cash may be illegal. If not, federal election law will have to be changed and that means Shaun McCutcheon will triumph in court once more.
McCutcheon is the Alabama engineer who made headlines nationwide in 2014 following the landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down aggregate limits on the number of federal candidates, political action committees and parties that one can contribute to in an election cycle.
McCutcheon’s eponymous Supreme Court case was denounced by President Obama as one that would lead “millionaires and billionaires bankrolling whoever they want.”
An early and active part of the “Trump Train” in ’16 and an Alabama delegate for Trump at the Republican National Convention that year, McCutcheon this year made a brief and late bid for the Libertarian nomination for president.
“Look, I’m still a Republican and there’s a lot of things Libertarians stand for that I definitely don’t — like legalizing drugs or pardoning [Edward] Snowden,” the Alabamian told us, “But the Libertarian Party stands for freedom and the free market and I said ‘Why not run?'”
After losing the nomination to present Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen, McCutcheon discovered he had $50,000 remaining in his campaign coffers. So he attempted to donate the leftover funds to the Libertarian Party.
“But we first sought an opinion from the Federal Election Commission on whether we can do it — a pretty smart move, I think, considering the penalties you can be slapped with for violating federal election law,” he told us. (Violations of election law often carry stiff financial penalties and even prison time; Connecticut’s former Republican Gov. John Rowland served a year in prison for violation of FEC regulations in 2014.)
“The FEC refused to answer [McCutcheon’s] request, citing a lack of a quorum,” recalled Richard Winger in the much-read “Ballot Access News,” “Federal Law requires the FEC to issue such advisory opinions.”
On September 4, McCutcheon filed a lawsuit in federal court against the FEC, requesting that the court either force the FEC to answer his question, or for the judge to answer it instead.
The person who could be impacted the most by a ruling in the new McCutcheon case is, of course, Bloomberg. All signs show that the New Yorker never sought a ruling and simply donated the money to the DNC — “even though federal law doesn’t permit individuals to donate more than $37,000 in any calendar year to the general treasury of an FEC-recognized national committee,” noted Winger.
So the fate of Bloomberg’s money is in the hands of a federal judge. Either he will be able to donate his $18 million to the DNC, and others such as Shaun McCutcheon will be able to make large donations to other national committees. Or the DNC will have to give Bloomberg back his money.
In either event, a second McCutcheon case will have a powerful impact on the world of campaign finance.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.