With the retirement of Tom Davis and the failure of a long list of potential candidates to post, many folks have decided Keith Fimian is The Man for the GOP nod to hold the Va-11 seat for the GOP this fall. Too Conservative has annointed him, as has Chris over
at the Mason Conservative.
One strength that they point to is Fimian’s willingness to self-finance. To that end they note that he has raised $656K to date, and $327K of that is a loan from the candidate.
While the ability to fund oneself can be a good thing, it can also potentially kick in something that was seen in Va-10 in 2004: The Millionaire’s Amendment.
The full run of FEC regs on the Millionaire’s Amendment can be found here. The idea is to keep someone from flat out buying an election.
The threshold is $350K. Once candidate A exceeds that limit they have 24 hours to directly contact the opposition (Candidate B) and inform them they have exceeded the $350K threshold. The individual contribution limit for Candidate B is then tripled (in 2008, that would mean $2300×3=$6900), and stays that way until Candidate B brings in as much money through the increased limit as is needed to match the money Candidate A loaned/donated to his campaign.
Also, national and State party committees may make unlimited coordinated expenditures on behalf of the candidate…to a point.
Notice that this increased limit is meant to level the playing field, and not serve as retribution. If Candidate A above gives/loans his campaign $351K, then Candidate B can use the increased limits to reach $351K, then must stop. Then (at least as I read it), if Candidate A gives himself more money, he must again notify Candidate B, and the increased limits kick right back in.
Virginia is no stranger to the Millionaire’s Amendment. James Socas, the 2004 Democratic darling who was so well thought of that he addressed the 2004 Democratic convention, violated the amendment on the way to being correctly labeled a carpetbagger and being trounced by Frank Wolf in Va-10. However, Mr. Socas failed to notify the Wolf campaign within 24 hours. This was the beginning of the Socas comedy of errors where he did not file finance reports for the post election period, end of year, first quarter 2005 (even though the campaign committee was still operating). Ultimately, he had to pay $67,000 in fines to the FEC for these assorted violations.
It should be noted that Congressman Wolf did not send out requests for additional contributions at the higher limit. He already had the funds he needed, plus there were only ten days or so left until election day which makes it difficult to suddenly pump in contributions at the higher limits.
Given that Va-11 will be an open seat, I am guessing that if Mr. Fimian exceeds the limit then the DCCC and their allies and the backers of LB3/Chair Ger/DD will be completely willing to match him dollar for dollar…if they can. On the other hand, let’s say that Mr. Fimian does a Socas and goes over the limit but does so late in the day. Will there be enough time to counter punch? Will the democratic nominee have time and funds to be able to get out the TV spots accusing him of “buying the seat”?
I don’t know…but Mr. Fimian’s willingness to spend his own money-and apparently there is a little available-makes for an interesting imponderable in the increasingly interesting Va-11 campaign.
UPDATE: the US Supreme Court repealed the Millionaire’s Amendment portion of McCain-Finegold.