Marco Rubio's Illegal Presidential Campaign

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. during a campaign event at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. during a campaign event at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

"Illegal" immigrants? How about an illegal presidential campaign?

Marco Rubio's presidential campaign is breaking the law with impunity and in so doing, is throwing up the specter of political corruption and the appearance of political corruption.

All of the money for Rubio's campaign ads to date has been illegally laundered through a non-profit organization that doesn't have to disclose its donors and is legally required to spend its funds for social welfare, not for the exclusive benefit of an individual such as a presidential candidate like Rubio.

If he's smart, Donald Trump will call out Rubio for his illegal campaign ads and tell the voters that Rubio is bought and sold by secretive special interests.

How is Rubio's presidential campaign illegal?

The pernicious Citizens United decision stripped away most -- but not all -- campaign finance laws. After Citizens United, It's still illegal for donors to give more than $2,700 to a presidential candidate's primary campaign and another $2,700 to his/her general election campaign. Even the 5-4 majority in Citizens United ruled that unlimited campaign contributions gives rise to corruption and/or the appearance of corruption.

Post-Citizens United, wealthy individuals and corporations may donate unlimited amounts to Super PACs which supposedly don't coordinate with the candidate's campaign. However Super PACs must still disclose the names of their donors. If Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers or George Soros give millions to a candidate's Super PAC, at least the voters can find out.

But many donors don't want the public to know how much they're giving to support a candidate, and many candidates, like Rubio, don't want voters to know how much money they're getting from millionaires, billionaires, and corporations who may be seeking political favors in return for financial support.

So in addition to Super PACs, big donors launder campaign contributions through "social welfare" organizations which, in exchange for non-profit status and donor secrecy, are legally required to use the funds for social welfare and not for the exclusive benefit of an individual such as a political candidate.

In short, funneling secret money to support a candidate through a so-called "social welfare" organization is illegal. Abuse of the "social welfare" loophole is increasingly common among political candidates and their wealthy financial backers.

But the biggest known law-breaking to date surrounds the Rubio ads. And if the group running them gets away with it, such law-breaking will become the norm for politicians and their big money contributors.

100 percent of the $5.5 million in political ads supporting Rubio's presidential bid aired so far this year have been paid for by a non-profit "social welfare" group called Conservative Solutions Project which does not disclose its donors (who have contributed a total of $18 million so far). Not one dime of Rubio's political ads have been paid for by the Rubio campaign itself, or even Rubio's Super PAC which identifies its donors.

According to the New York Times,

Mr. Rubio's heavy reliance on the group effectively keeps secret the identities of some of his biggest supporters, making it impossible to know whose agenda the senator may be embracing. Mr. Rubio has avidly courted the [gambling] casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, for example, even signing on in June as a co-sponsor of an Adelson-backed bill that would restrict Internet gambling.

Does Sen. Rubio personally oppose internet gambling or is he sponsoring the bill because it would benefit Adelson's own gambling interests? Does Rubio support higher military budgets because they'll make America safer or because of secret contributions to his non-profit by weapons manufacturers? Is he against limits on greenhouse emissions because of secret contributions from the energy industry?

Who knows?

Moreover, Rubio's non-profit "social welfare" organization, Conservative Solutions Project has almost the same name as Rubio's Super PAC ("Conservative Solutions PAC"). It was formed by the head of Rubio's Super PAC, is run by an advisor to Rubio's Senate campaign, and shares a spokesman with the Rubio Super PAC. It strains credibility to think there's no coordination between Rubio's "social welfare" organization that paid for his campaign ads, Rubio's Super PAC, and the Rubio campaign. Such coordination, even under Citizens United, is unlawful and evidences corruption and/or the appearance of corruption.

Rubio's campaign ads to date are blatantly and shamelessly illegal and corrupt. But those who are running the ads are playing legal roulette, betting that the IRS is too intimidated to enforce the law, or even if it does, by then the campaign will be over and Rubio may be president with the ability to shut down any investigation.

Marco Rubio -- illegal presidential campaigner.