Hillary Clinton’s plan to “curb the outsized influence of big money in American politics” is being championed by an unlikely source: a political committee that says it can accept unlimited money and coordinate directly with the Democratic front-runner’s presidential campaign. On Tuesday, shortly after Clinton announced a series of proposals to reform the campaign finance system, a super PAC called Correct The Record sent an email to supporters highlighting Clinton’s plan and featuring a video produced by Clinton’s campaign in support of her recommendations.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision -- which Clinton pledged Tuesday to overturn if she is elected -- outside groups can accept unlimited money to influence elections, but they are supposed to be independent of the candidates they support. Correct The Record asserts that it is allowed to accept unlimited money and directly coordinate with political campaigns and political parties.
The rules developed after the Citizens United decision have been stretched in the 2016 election cycle. For example, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s team created a super PAC, helped it raise $100 million, and established a strategy for how it can help him win the Republican presidential nomination -- all before he announced his candidacy. At that point, a “firewall” was set up, and the campaign and the outside group are no longer allowed to coordinate.
But Correct The Record is operating under the premise that its work requires no such firewall with the Clinton campaign. In May the group said it “will not be engaged in paid media and thus will be allowed to coordinate with campaigns and Party Committees.”
A representative of Correct The Record did not respond to questions from International Business Times. But the group told Bloomberg in May that Federal Election Commission rules "specifically permit some activity -- in particular, activity on an organization’s website, in email, and on social media -- to be legally coordinated with candidates and political parties.”
Correct The Record raised a combined $1.4 million in May and June, according to the group’s filing with the FEC. Records show Clinton's campaign donated roughly $275,000 worth of research in June.
— Correct The Record (@CorrectRecord) September 8, 2015
Correct The Record was created by David Brock, a Clinton ally who has established a network of organizations that research Republican politicians and conservative news sources.
Recently, Correct The Record has been aggressive in responding to criticism of Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, and has questioned the credibility of Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who is leading the congressional investigation into the deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
The group has called on Gowdy to release his own work-related and personal emails, and those of his staff. Members of Congress, unlike State Department employees, are not subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act and their emails cannot be sought through open records requests. Nevertheless, Brock asked Gowdy in a recent letter: "what sir do you have to hide?”