Republican front-runner and real estate mogul Donald Trump attacked Jeb Bush Saturday in Florida for his super PAC, or political action committee, which is a campaign funding mechanism that can raise unlimited sums for political expenditures. Trump said the money-raising machine behind Bush's 2016 presidential run, while raking in a lot of cash, isn't enough to win Bush the Republican nomination.
"Nobody knows they are what they mean. I think they’re the dumbest thing," Trump said about the super PACs. "These super PACs are a disaster."
Trump's campaign recently released a press statement disavowing what he said were unofficial super PACs that have popped up to promote his presidential run. The Donald urged other candidates to do the same with their political action committees. He reiterated the message Saturday while attacking Bush, saying that the sums he's raised won't be enough to win the Republican nomination. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton also has an impressive fundraising record with her super PAC.
"I am self-funding my campaign and therefore I will not be controlled by the donors, special interests and lobbyists who have corrupted our politics and politicians for far too long," Trump said in the statement. He has, indeed, been mostly self-funding his campaign, but a campaign spokesperson clarified that he also accepts unsolicited donations online.
Campaign finance rules have become a major talking point in the 2016 nominating process. Trump and Democratic candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have taken a strong stance against super PACs, and they try to distance themselves from the fundraising machines they say imbue big money interests with too much influence in politics.
Still, super PACs aren't the most complicated of organisms, even if campaign finance rules are confusing. Super PACs -- the acronym PAC stands for "political action committee" -- are able to raise unlimited amounts of money for political messaging and campaigning. Candidates and their PACs, which are subject to contribution limits, are not allowed to coordinate with the super PACs. Donations to super PACs require donor disclosure, meaning that contributions must be publicly disclosed with names and the amounts given.
Super PACs with huge donations don't always mean that a candidate will become a powerful contender. But their influence via political advertising can be significant. Bush's affiliated super PAC, named Right to Rise Super PAC, has raised $103 million to prop up their favored candidate. Clinton's super PAC, Priorities Action, has raised $15.7 million so far in the nominating season -- though her actual campaign has raised $77.5 million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Trump, on the other hand, publicly says he does not want the support of one of those committees and has loaned his campaign $1.9 million of his own money, according to CRP.