NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Are you a politically conscious conservative eager to make a difference? Has your experience at the Conservative Political Action Conference inspired you to engage in the electoral process beyond merely voting? Do you have the financial assets to support a candidate but are concerned you might end up grossly violating the law?
Well, today's your lucky day!
For a limited time only, DB Capitol Strategies PLLC will guide you through the loopholes of confusing campaign finance laws at a price that the Average Joe can afford.
From its booth in the basement hall at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center (the site of this year’s conservative gathering) the D.C.-based firm is offering its "CPAC discount": For $695, you can get outfitted with a ready-to-roll hybrid PAC.
What, exactly, is a hybrid PAC?
It's the hottest thing in political campaigns! Taking elements of the classic political action committee, which allows you to contribute directly to federal candidates, and the super PAC, which gives you the power to make unlimited expenditures (provided you’re not coordinating with campaigns), the hybrid PAC is the best of both all mashed together.
"All it takes is two bank accounts," the lawyer representing the DB Capitol Strategies table told The Huffington Post.
If that’s all it takes, then why the nearly $700 price tag?
Well, $200 of that actually gets deposited into your PAC, the lawyer explained. And besides, it’s not really that easy to open up two bank accounts for the purposes of influencing elections.
As evidence, the lawyer pointed to the literature conveniently located on DB Capitol Strategies' table: FEC guidelines, a code of Federal Regulations and a massive binder, with 12 separate sections, meant to guide clients through the red tape of getting their hybrid PACs off the ground. The lawyer touted the firm's principal attorney, Dan Backer, as uniquely adept at maneuvering through the legal loopholes. Backer was the lead counsel on Carey v. FEC, which allowed PACs unaffiliated with corporations or unions to raise unlimited money and still donate to candidates.
"The Cutting Edge of Free Speech Litigation" reads one of the signs at the firm's booth.
The intrigue builds. Is that $695 a one-time payment? Can we start running campaign ads next week?
"Yes," the lawyer said. However, if you set up a hybrid PAC, you will have to continue to obey federal campaign law (drag). But DB Capitol Strategies can help you with that (YES!) for a small additional fee (ugh).
The firm's lawyers will do your FEC filings for the price of $150 hour (slowly walking away from table); but they will also throw in a voucher that gives you 40 percent off your mid-year filing (listening again).
After a few more minutes of salesmanship, The Huffington Post left the table with a business card -- but no contract. Few CPAC attendees had signed up with the firm on the first day of the conference. HuffPost asked to speak to some of the firm's past clients before making a commitment. The lawyer offered two names: Special Operations Speaks and Tea Party News Network.
But as The Huffington Post goes looking for the booths of those two groups, reality sets in. Even if we had a hybrid PAC, what the hell would we do with it? Campaign ads aren't like homemade YouTube videos: They require an artistic touch and an acute sense of how to influence public opinion. And firms that specialize in campaign finance law can’t help us with that.
Ah, but the CPAC Exhibit Hall is vast. The Huffington Post counted more than 125 booths over six or so rows. And within few steps, our concerns have dissipated. The online advertising firm CampaignGrid has its own setup, offering precisely what's needed: Copious amounts of literature on how to get the most effective, cutting-edge ads for your campaign cash.