Governor Mitt Romney is financing the early stages of his potential presidential campaign with a novel, multistate fund-raising operation that is allowing him to maximize legal donations, outflank top Republican competitors, and minimize public scrutiny.
Since July 2004, Romney has set up affiliates of his political action committee, the Commonwealth PAC, in five states. By having donors spread their contributions across the various affiliates, Romney has been able to effectively evade the $5,000-per-donor annual contribution limit that applies only to federal committees, which most presidential aspirants set up to build initial support for their candidacies.
The multistate system is helping Romney raise money quickly from relatively few contributors, and foster valuable political relationships around the country. It also is a strategy several potential opponents for the Republican nomination cannot use: Federal office-holders, under new campaign finance rules, are barred from operating such state affiliates.
That means possible 2008 competitors such as Senators John McCain of Arizona and George Allen of Virginia have to rely solely on their federal PACs and thus cannot accept more than $5,000 from any contributor each year.
“I think it’s a brilliant strategy,” said Rich Bond, a former Republican National Committee chairman and a McCain supporter. “It’s fully compliant with the law, yet allows Romney to deploy political assets in a comprehensive fashion.”
A review by the Globe of Commonwealth PAC campaign finance filings indicates that more than 100 donors have given a total of $1.6 million to Romney’s various PAC organizations over the past two years. It is a relatively small amount compared to what Romney would need for a presidential campaign — President Bush raised $273 million in 2004, for example — but the creation of a fund-raising network will help establish Romney in monied circles that will be crucial if he decides to run for the White House.
A Democratic friend living in MA sent me the link along with this telling note:
This story from Sunday’s Boston Globe on Romney is worth reading. Shows seriousness of purpose, close analysis of the rules and regulations — an enduring characteristic of his professional endeavours. He will not run a ‘me-too’ campaign. He knows he is an outsider, starting with his faith, and he will look for a seam or opening and then run into it and through it. Consider his decision to take over the troubled Olympics –fraught with downside. His professional success is built on organizing and deploying resources to achieve defined outcomes — just think about his investment business, especially the LBO business.
The “MBA Effect” on American politics is just beginning to come clear as the world of campaigns moves from the control of insiders and the MSM to the world of managing distributed networks of activists, new media, interest groups and, of course, finances. The Romney campaign has an obvious head start, but I expect the many contenders in 2008 will be studying its every move and quickly copying its innovations.
At least the smart ones will.