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Sunday, December 4, 2016

by Kim Barker, ProPublica

 

With 300-plus super PACs and counting, it would be easy to miss CREEP. But last Thursday, a new super PAC ingeniously named the Committee for the Re-Election of the President registered with the Federal Election Commission.

The committee is based out of a post office box at the Watergate Complex — an homage, of course, to the other Committee for the Re-Election of the President, the fundraising committee for President Richard Nixon that became embroiled in the Watergate scandal.

It’s an inside joke with a serious punchline. The old CREEP (which used the acronym CRP and at one point was called the Committee to Re-Elect the President) helped spur the creation of the FEC. The website for CREEP Super PAC says it’s committed “to raising voices not dollars” and advocates disclosure.

“It’s an excellent chance for people to step back and say, ‘Are we happy with 40 years of campaign finance and the lack of disclosure?'” said Robert Lucas, 22, founder of the new CREEP and a graduate student in public policy at Georgetown University. “There’s a lot of irony, with the 40th anniversary of Watergate and where we are now.”

The latest FEC disclosures show that super PACs are forming at an accelerated pace, taking advantage of court rulings in 2010 that opened the door to political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of money as long as they don’t coordinate with a candidate.

Seven new super PACs turned up yesterday morning alone, while one dropped out today, bringing the tally to 324. Only 159 have reported raising or spending any money. Of those, just 11 reported having more than $1 million in their coffers in their most recent filings with the FEC, led by GOP super PAC American Crossroads, which had more than $23.5 million at the end of February. (CREEP, being new, hasn’t reported raising any money, and Lucas says he has no plans to do so.)

Another 27 super PACs reported having at least $100,000 in the bank. The rest seem to be counting their pennies and hoping for a millionaire. (The Friends for a Democratic White House PAC, for instance, reported having only $12.02.)

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