Remember all that time that Jeb! was running for president even though he wasn't? Well, turns out he was coordinating heavily with Right to Rise, his super-PAC. Of course, campaign finance laws prohibit such coordination, but Jeb thumbed his nose at the law because he hadn't "announced"—never mind all those speeches and trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. On a recent phone call with donors, Mike Murphy, head of Right to Rise, made it painfully obvious just how close that coordination was. Russ Choma
During that call, Murphy made it clear that he had, until Bush's official announcement, been party to Bush's deliberations over how to run his future campaign. He told the donors that he "can't coordinate anymore" with the Bush campaign but was "well informed as of a week ago," according to Buzzfeed. Then Murphy delved into a discussion of the strategy that the campaign would follow and the complementary strategy the super-PAC would employ.
Murphy indicated that Bush and Right to Rise officials had intensive conversations about how the super-PAC would support the official campaign following Bush's announcement. He noted the Right to Rise had already shot video footage of Bush to use in videos and political ads. "We're going to be the first super-PAC to really be able to do just positive advertising, to tell his story, which is the missing ingredient right now," Murphy told the donors. After Bush declared his candidacy, the super-PAC released its first digital ad on YouTube, featuring chirpy music and snappy animated text, lauding Bush's success and describing itself as an "independent, transparent organization…Our goal is to show you Jeb's heart."
Campaign finance experts say it's unlikely the Federal Election Commission will do anything in the near term to punish Bush's deceit. But they could make adjustments for future elections.
Paul Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, says that when Bush and Right to Rise first started raising more money than was necessary for Bush to merely explore the idea of running—that is, when they raised money with the intention of using it to get Bush elected president—Bush, under the law, became an official candidate, whether he acknowledged it or not. If the super-PAC was shooting footage for campaign ads before Bush's official announcement with his participation, that cuts against Bush's position that he was merely exploring a presidential run. Ryan describes Bush's involvement with the super-PAC video shoot as "classic textbook coordination."
Everyone knew Bush was lying. What they may not have counted on was that his lie might gain him close to a $100 million
advantage compared to his rivals.