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CA: "Millionaire amendment" may be triggered in 50th District - Race for Duke Cunningham's seat
North County Times ^ | 2/18/06 | William Finn Bennett

Posted on 02/18/2006 11:54:19 AM PST by NormsRevenge

Republican Congressional candidate and millionaire Eric Roach on Friday notified the Federal Election Commission and competing candidates in the 50th District race that he has surpassed the self-funding limit that triggers the so-called "Millionaire's Amendment."

That little-known rule allows competing candidates, in some cases, to triple the limit on individual campaign donations.

In Roach's notification, he reports that as of Thursday, he had spent $750,000 on the April 11 special election where voters will pick a replacement for former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who resigned from office in November after pleading guilty in federal court to receiving more than $2.4 million in bribes.

A spokesman for Roach said in a phone interview Friday that in a hotly contested election, with 23 candidates already in the running, Roach had little choice but to spend generously from his own pocket.

"A lot of people are trying to get their message out," said spokesman Stan Devereux. "Some people (will use) donations from special interests and others will be self-funding."

The millionaire's amendment is attached to the Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that imposed major restrictions on certain types of campaign financing. Designed to prevent millionaires from obtaining an unfair advantage in Congressional elections, the rule first came into play during 2004 congressional races.

In the lead-up to those elections, two congressional candidates ended up having to pay $40,000 in fines because they violated provisions in the amendment. It stipulates that if a single House candidate lends or donates more than $350,000 to his or her own campaign, under certain circumstances, the limit on campaign contributions for competing candidates from individuals may increase from a maximum of $2,100 to $6,300.

A complex formula takes into consideration several factors, including how much all of the candidates have received in self-funding and donations from others or themselves, to determine the limit on individual donations that each candidate is allowed to receive.

Once the amendment is triggered, another provision allows national and state party committees to make unlimited coordinated expenditures on behalf of the candidate.

It also requires that any candidate who breaks that $350,000 self-funding threshold to notify the Federal Election Commission and all other candidates in the same race within 24 hours.

Two other Republican candidates also have invested hundreds of thousands in their own campaigns for the 50th District seat. Businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Alan Uke filed paperwork with the FEC earlier this year, in which he reported having loaned or donated $300,000 to his campaign. Likewise, businessman and former Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest reported having loaned his campaign $200,000.

Roach's notification to the FEC and his competitors states that he spent $250,000 through Jan. 31, and another $500,000 in the past two weeks. Devereux said that a "significant portion" of that money has gone to pay for television, radio and newspaper advertising.

But the spending is not likely to end in April. After the special election, in June, a possible runoff election for the special election will be held in tandem with the regularly scheduled primary election, where voters will pick one candidate from each party to run in the general election in November. The winner of that election will then serve a two-year term starting in January.

Asked how much Roach plans on spending in the coming months, Devereux said: "I politely decline to give a specific amount, because the fact of the matter is, there will be special interests in Washington that will want to know that information, so they can contribute to our opponents."

A spokesman for congressional candidate and state Sen. Bill Morrow said Friday that Morrow's campaign received a copy of the FEC filing Friday. Morrow spokesman Joe Justin said he was very happy with the latest twist in a race that has seen three wealthy candidates pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into their own campaigns.

"The playing field is going to be a little more level," Justin said. "There are a number of committed donors who are going to be appreciative of the opportunity to do more for the senator."

The hotly contested 50th District race has seen 23 candidates jump into the fray in recent months, many of them in the past few weeks.

With 155,000 registered Republicans verses 104,000 registered Democrats, the 50th District covers much of North County and stretches south into portions of San Diego. Because Republicans dominate the district, the seat has long been considered a safe one for the GOP. However, in the wake of the Cunningham scandal, Democrats have said they see it as ripe for an upset.

So far, 18 Republicans, two Democrats, one libertarian, one Peace and Freedom Party member and one independent have jumped into the fray.

A spokesman for Democratic candidate and Cardiff school board member Francine Busby said Friday Roach's announcement simply underscores the increasingly important role that money is playing in the campaign.

"It's more confirmation that Francine is running against a group of career politicians and millionaires trying to buy this election," Busby spokesman Brennan Bilberry said. "It means that a grass-roots candidate with support from the community will still be able to run a strong race against a mega-millionaire."

TOPICS: Politics/Elections; US: California
KEYWORDS: 109th; 50th; 50thdistrict; alanuke; amendment; billmorrow; california; dukecunningham; ericroach; kaloogian; millionaire; richardearnest; triggered
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Previous stories:

1 posted on 02/18/2006 11:54:21 AM PST by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge
Go Howard!
2 posted on 02/18/2006 11:56:00 AM PST by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Monthly Donor spoken Here. Go to ...
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To: NormsRevenge
Will somebody explain to me how prohibiting somebody from spending their own money on a campaign is not a violation of free speech?!
3 posted on 02/18/2006 11:57:46 AM PST by wagglebee ("We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom." -- President Bush, 1/20/05)
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To: NormsRevenge
Using your own money to seek elective office is a crime now. Unbelievable.

How about completely abolishing campaign finance "reform" and let individuals and businesses contribute as much as they want, as long as there's full disclosure and the money isn't from foreign sources.

Of course, since Rat politicians get their funds from the aforementioned shady foreign sources and the obligatory left-wing special interest groups, there's a reason why these limits are in place to begin with. Conservative candidates would sweep them out of office, since our donations come from individuals, hard-working families, and business groups.

4 posted on 02/18/2006 11:59:18 AM PST by Extremely Extreme Extremist (Tagline removed by Moderator)
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To: wagglebee

They are not so prohibited. Where did you get that idea?

5 posted on 02/18/2006 12:06:17 PM PST by iPod Shuffle
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To: NormsRevenge
Once the amendment is triggered, another provision allows national and state party committees to make unlimited coordinated expenditures on behalf of the candidate.

Here's the real threat Norm. If this provision is being reported correctly the New Majority can pick a candidate and legally pump millions into his campaign through the CRP.

6 posted on 02/18/2006 4:40:58 PM PST by Amerigomag
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To: NormsRevenge

I second your GO HOWARD, and raise you one!

Disclaimer: I work for Mr. Kaloogian so I have a bias. I've known Howard for quite some time having grown up in North San Diego County, where Mr. Kaloogian was a Republican representative in the State Legislature.

7 posted on 02/20/2006 12:33:33 PM PST by Impeach98
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To: Amerigomag
That is correct.

This is one of the things that depresses me most about this entire campaign finance scheme. Not only do I not like the regulations in general, but under this system you tie the hands of SOME candidates, but then allow a situation where you have party committees that might not be controlled by people who embrace the Party's philosophy being able to pump unlimited amounts of money in a race.

In California the conservatives lost control of the State Party over the past 3-4 years.

The people who run the Party now would very much prefer a more liberal candidate like Brian Bilbray win than a conservative like Howard Kaloogian or Bill Morrow.

8 posted on 02/20/2006 12:36:19 PM PST by Impeach98
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