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The NRCC’s Non-Coordination Coordinating With SuperPACs

The campaign finance system in this country is so self-evidently broken. As Steven Colbert brilliantly pointed out in his year-long satire of the SuperPAC process, “illegal coordination” is so easily skirted that the rules might as well be meaningless. We saw more evidence of this today.

Politico unearthed a document from the NRCC, the Republican campaign arm in the House. It identifies vulnerable Republicans in need of help to donors.

In the document, the NRCC identifies the top 10 incumbents who donors should direct resources to. Two – GOP Reps. Dan Lungren and Brian Bilbray – are from California, a state where Democrats are making a major push in their effort to seize the 25 seats needed to claim the House majority. Another two – GOP Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass – are from New Hampshire. One – GOP Rep. Chris Gibson – is from New York, where Democrats are also betting big.

The list also includes Illinois Rep. Judy Biggert, Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack, and Michigan Rep. Dan Benishek, all of whom are facing uphill slogs in their battles for reelection. Also on the list is Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who’s in a member vs. member race against Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, and Texas Rep. Quico Canseco.

The 10 members are part of the NRCC’s 34-member Patriot Program, which aims to boost the party’s most vulnerable incumbents. The committee did not include several members who appear to be in stronger shape, such as New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan or Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Nor did it highlight those incumbents who are expected to fall short, such as Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh or Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

So the NRCC puts out this bulletin, and it gets picked up by Politico. Now, SuperPACs aren’t “coordinating” with candidates or party committees when they read this information and then direct their resources accordingly. But they might as well be coordinating. Basically the NRCC just laundered their internal data through public sources so “independent” groups can spend their money in the most targeted fashion.

This just turns the entire concept of illegal coordination on its head. I guarantee you that you can draw a direct line between this document and the biggest GOP incumbent recipients of SuperPAC dollars in the final week.

That old adage about money being like water is definitely true. But the current rules make it so easy for that money to flow.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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