By Luke Rosiak-The Washington Times
When a bid for the presidency fails, the typical politician can roll over any leftover campaign donations to efforts to maintain a seat inÂ CongressÂ or place at the governorâ€™s mansion. ButÂ Herman CainÂ is not your typical politician, as the voters were often reminded; heâ€™s a businessman.
Twenty-first century politics, too, is a big business, and the political noviceâ€™s months-long flirtation with the presidency leaves him with potentially millions of votersâ€™ dollars he could spend with few limitations for years to come.
Mr. CainÂ said Saturday he was withdrawing from the race and establishing an issue group called theÂ Cain Solutions, indicating that the presidential campaign is likely to be converted into a political action committee or nonprofit that can pay for a website and other platforms forMr. Cainâ€™s ideas – as well as staff, meals and expenses.
There are few restrictions on what former candidates may do with remaining funds except that they may not pocket them directly.
â€œReturning it seems like the easiest way to prevent any questions about their intentâ€ but that is not likely, saidÂ Sheila Krumholz, executive director of theÂ Center for Responsive Politics, which has monitored campaign finance since 1983. Since that time, the cost of elections has ballooned to the extent that running for office can be a vocation in itself, and years after the national spotlight fades, massive chests of money raised from ordinary citizens have remained with failed candidates, consultants and political committees.
Other permitted alternatives are to â€œcontribute it to charity or establish their own charities, which is what they often do so they can control it. They can give to parties and other politicians, which they often do if they want to become lobbyists,â€Â Ms. KrumholzÂ said.
Mr. Cainâ€™s decision to â€œsuspendâ€ his campaign rather than terminate it gives additional leeway, allowing him to continue to raise funds without disruption. Secretary of StateÂ Hillary Rodham Clintonâ€™s presidential campaign used the term in 2008 and has continued to collect cash, even generating income by renting its donor list toÂ Massachusetts SenatecandidateÂ Elizabeth Warren.
The campaign could also become the first former candidate committee to morph into a â€œsuper-PAC,â€ a new type of group that can raise unlimited funds and run ads supporting or opposing candidates. The move would allowÂ Mr. CainÂ to remain relevant, and in control of large sums of money, while making himself valuable to whichever candidate he endorses.
Newt Gingrich, a possible recipient of aÂ CainÂ endorsement, used an older type of political fund to maintain an active – and pampered – public life for years after leavingÂ Congress, with a name, American Solutions, not dissimilar to the newÂ Cain Solutions. That group raised $28 million last year and spent $3.3 million on chartered air travel.
Mr. CainÂ raised more than $5 million through September. Information on the financial activity since that time wonâ€™t be disclosed until January, but the campaign said it raised $9 million over a few weeks alone.
The funds allowedÂ Mr. Cain and associatesÂ to dine and travel in style, using $350,000 on private chartered air in a few weeks, spending thousands at hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons, and eating largely steak dinners, records show.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/5/campaign-donations-you-cant-refuse/
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