National Journal has called attention to a pro-McDaniel email sent out Thursday morning by the California-based Tea Party Express. Read carefully.
“We just got off the phone with the McDaniel campaign and they need our help!” Tea Party Express chief strategist Sal Russo wrote in an email to supporters, which also came with a fundraising pitch. “The Tea Party Express is going all in and heading down to Mississippi to ensure a conservative victory. Will you support us and make victory possible?”
What’s the issue? As National Journal points out, the Tea Party Express is an independent group, and is legally barred from coordinating strategy or spending with McDaniel and his campaign.
“That would seem to be pretty clear coordination,” Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told National Journal is reference to the Russo email. “I would think this would raise the red flag for enforcement folks at the Federal Election Commission.”
Russo told National Journal his group hadn’t done anything wrong, saying that they “just can’t coordinate expenditures, and we don’t do that.” Taylor Budowich, the Tea Party Express’ executive director, allowed that the first sentence of the email “reads a little odd,” but also insisted no illegal coordination had taken place.
“We congratulated the campaign on winning the primary,” Budowich said, describing the phone call between the group and the campaign. “The law says we cannot coordinate expenditures. … You can communicate with a campaign. You can’t coordinate expenditures. Completely, two different things.”
According to Federal Election Commission filings, the Tea Party Express — whose political action committee operates under the name “Our Country Deserves Better PAC – TeaPartyExpress.org” — contributed $5,000 to McDaniel’s campaign in March, although the group’s most recent filings only cover spending through the end of April.
TPM also got a copy of the email. Read it here: