As John Bolton exits the GOP political scene for his new stint at the White House, he leaves behind more than $3 million in the bank accounts of his political organizations that have funneled big bucks into federal elections over the years, according to Federal Election Commission records.
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The organizations, John Bolton PAC and John Bolton Super PAC, branded after and led by the former United Nations ambassador, announced Thursday afternoon that the groups are suspending all future political activities until further notice as of March 31, 2018.
“Ambassador Bolton is proud of the tremendous success of his super PAC, which helped elect many conservative leaders who have made strong national security policies a top priority,” the super PAC web site stated.
The announcement came a little more than a week before he’s expected to join the White House as President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser.
Under the Hatch Act of 1939, federal employees are prohibited from participating in partisan political activity. One expert says, as national security adviser, Bolton, in particular, will be classified as “further restricted” governmental employee who may not “campaign for or against a candidate or state of candidates in partisan elections,” or “collect contributions or sell tickets to political fund raising functions.”
“Most governmental employees are classified as ‘less restrictive’ employees and are allowed to do some political activities and campaign work off government time,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist with the nonprofit group Public Citizen.
Holman added that many, if not most, presidential appointees play fairly active roles in the presidential elections to keep their boss in office. Security and intelligence officers, however, are held to a higher standard of serving the public in a nonpartisan manner, and a blatantly partisan security officer would undermine the credibility of the office and conceivably could enforce the law in an unjust partisan fashion, Holman said.
Bolton's spokesperson Garrett Marquis said the White House counsel, as well as lawyers for his outside groups, had advised Bolton to stop all political activities with the PAC and the super PAC per standard White House protocol.
Bolton has avoided violating the Hatch Act by ending involvement in his PAC and his super PAC, but there’s still a question of what will happen to the remaining funds from the committees.
As of Feb. 28, John Bolton PAC and John Bolton Super PAC each had about $574,000 and $3 million left cash on hand, according to FEC records.
Marquis said the funds will remain in bank accounts and the balances will continue to be reported monthly to the FEC.
Bolton’s move to the White House means that the GOP will lose a prolific fundraiser who has raised millions for the conservative side over the years.
Since 2014, Bolton has raised nearly $24 million from top GOP donors including Robert Mercer and Richard Uihlein through his PAC and his super PAC, FEC records show.
During the 2015-2016 election cycle, his outside groups spent just shy of $10 million in federal elections, about $2.6 million of which went to buying television ad blitz to support GOP lawmakers including Sen. John Heck of Nevada and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Bolton’s PAC also directly donated a total of $680,000 to various Republican candidates that election cycle, records show.
So far this election cycle, John Bolton Super PAC’s main priority has been unseating Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. The group spent more than $560,000 on campaigns in support of Baldwin’s GOP challenger Kevin Nicholson, FEC records show.
Bolton’s super PAC was also among Cambridge Analytica’s wide portfolio of GOP clients.
The data firm alleged to have misused Facebook data from up to 50 million profiles was paid more than $1.1 million by John Bolton Super PAC between 2014 and 2015 for “research” and “survey research,” according to FEC filings.