The super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich’s candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination has $5 million in the bank, thanks to casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s wife, Miriam, the latest Federal Election Commission report revealed.
So what will Winning Our Future do with all of that money? The fact is, anything they want to.
“They can buy a yacht and sail off in to the sunset drinking margaritas or whatever they want,” said Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that gives legal advice and assessments of campaign finances.
Though Gingrich is still in the race, it is unlikely the $5 million in Winning Our Future’s pocket will be spent before Gingrich exits.
Rick Tyler, a senior adviser and spokesman for Winning Our Future told ABC News that no one from the super PAC would be taking any sunset cruises any time soon.
“All of the money will be used for Newt’s benefit,” Tyler said.
Although Tyler would not reveal any specific plans or potential ad buys, he said that Winning Our Future planned to help out Gingrich’s campaign in North Carolina.
Ryan said although candidates and election committees for president aren’t allowed to use funds for personal expenses, there are no guidelines from the FEC on how super PACS use any leftover money once a candidate has suspended their campaign — the only thing they can’t do is pay off the candidate’s debt. Gingrich’s debt is $4.3 million.
“If someone’s not a candidate anymore, then the ban on coordinating with candidates doesn’t apply. The FEC has failed to adopt any rules given super PACs and when it comes to what happens after, the FEC has been asleep at the wheel,” Ryan said.
The FEC requires that Gingrich remain on the books as a candidate until his debt is paid.
Michael Malbin of the Campaign Finance Institute echoed Ryan’s interpretation of the FEC regulations on Super PACs.
“Unlimited contributions are allowed only on the condition that the committee does not coordinate with a candidate — and that includes a candidate’s authorized committee. If Mr. Gingrich is not a candidate, the committee may spend its money independently on whatever legal purpose it wants,” Malbin said.
The formation of a super PAC around a particular candidate was never the intention when the idea was conceived, but they later morphed into candidate-specific PACs as they are today, Ryan said.
For the first time, super PACs supporting candidates who are no longer in the race coined the term “Zombie PACs,” because they have leftover money and no cause.
It isn’t clear whether Winning Our Future will spend excess funds to place ad buys against the Obama campaign in the general election, spend the money on Adelson’s choosing or attempt to spend the entire $5 million for Gingrich before he exits the race.