The Washington Post broke the story this morning- Barack Obama's political action committee, Hopefund, has been handing out money to political candidates in the early primary states of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. Some of these candidates have endorsed Obama.
FEC laws are clear on the subject- leadership PACs are all fine, well, and good, but they can't be used to subsidize the PAC owner's campaign. If they could, campaign contribution and expenditure limits could be easily circumvented.
So let's examine Barack Obama's contributions to candidates during this 2008 election cycle and see if there are any indications that his use of this leadership PAC is anything other than what a leadership PAC should be- a vehicle for promoting the election of Democratic candidates. Follow me...
Here is the opensecrets.org report on activity in Barack Obama's Hopefund PAC. It shows $59,000 contributed to candidates for federal office. The Washington Post article indicates that total political contributions by Hopefund for the 2008 cycle amount to $180,000, so there's another $121,000 in contributions to local and state candidates.
So who are the federal candidates?
Here are the US House candidates who received Barack's PAC's money:
- Altmire, Jason (D-PA) $5,000
- Bean, Melissa (D-IL) $5,000
- Boswell, Leonard L (D-IA) $5,000
- Braley, Bruce (D-IA) $5,000
- Carney, Chris (D-PA) $5,000
- Giffords, Gabrielle (D-AZ) $5,000
- Hodes, Paul W (D-NH) $5,000
- Johnson, Hank (D-GA) $5,000
- Loebsack, David (D-IA) $5,000
- Murphy, Patrick J (D-PA) $4,000
- Rodriguez, Ciro D (D-TX) $5,000
- Shea-Porter, Carol (D-NH) $5,000
- Spencer, Selden (D-IA) $2,500
This diaryearlier today examined the issue and concluded that 68% of the contributions were going to the 54% of the states having early (Feb 5 or before) primaries. The eyeball analysis was that, hey, 68% isn't that much different from 54%, no big deal. It's hard to tell without the raw numbers. the 68% number is from the Hillary Clinton campaign press release on this issue.
Maybe an examination of the contributions to Federal office seekers will allow us a more rigorous analysis. Let's start with the US House seats. There are 435 members of the House, and the following total number of seats for the pre-Feb. 5 states (New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina) of 16 seats, as follows:
- New Hampshire 2 seats
- Iowa 5 seats
- Nevada 3 seats
- South Carolina 6 seats
So, assuming that Barack was just spreading good democratic cheer randomly, regardless of whether the state had an early primary or not, we would expect 16/435, or about 3.7%, of the 13 recipients listed above to be from these small early states, right?
Oh, dear. It's doesn't look too good. Six of the thirteen candidates are from the 3.7% of the House seats which represent these four early states.
Well, eyeball tests are tricky things. Let's whip out the old chi-square test.
6 | 7
16 | 419
Let's see. One degree of freedom, and chi-squared is equal to...48.8, with an associated probability of.... 0.000
For you laypersons, that's roughly equivalent to no chance in hell. Plug the numbers into the calculator in the link above if you think I'm bullshitting you.
Sorry, Barack. This one doesn't pass the smell test. The probability that these contributions were assigned without regard to their locations in early primary states is too small to measure. Hillary shut her HillPAC leadership PAC contributions to Federal office seekers down for the 2008 cycle. No contributions to candidates for Federal office. Don't get up on your high horse about the new politics if you can't at least follow her example.