Jeb Bush’s Nonexistent Campaign Faces Nonexistent Hurdles

Jeb Bush at The World Affairs Council in September, 2012. (cropped from original image)<a href=https://www.flickr.com/photos/wacphiladelphia/8033641249/in/photolist-deUvE2-dfQ7FF-deUpt9-mhqvcP-mhpDiF-mhreMC-mhpBfH-mhqhSX-mhq3tr-mhrc8Q-mhrtWj-mhqkJP-ppGRvp-q3yPGu-tBAHMt-q6k3ye-9kEW9V-7dot1V-cmp9xY-7vW1FB-rJL2we-7vW1DH-cmp9oy-msRVJK-qHGsTx-qFzghC-deU85K-qRXrrS-qZyCRx-paCfbP-deUhtz-dfPXtt-deUsze-deUc7N-deUwHm-deUdxP-deUeZj-7dskV5-oWrEiX-7vW2rR-7vZRuL-7vW1gR-7vZQau-7vZRKW-7vZQ6Y-7vZRD5-7vZQzA-7vZRyS-7vZQhu-7vZQkw>TheWorldAffairsCouncil</a>/Flickr

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Technically, Jeb Bush is not yet running for president. So technically, there have not been recent staff changes in the former Florida governor’s presidential campaign.

According to an NBC Nightly News report on Wednesday, two top campaign aides, Danny Diaz and David Kochel, were given new titles and new responsibilities. Diaz became campaign manager, and Kochel became chief strategist. While on a trip to Europe, Bush was asked by NBC’s Chris Jansing why he replaced his campaign manager, and his reply was firm. “Well first of all, we don’t have a campaign,” Bush said. “So there was no switching.”

Bush’s strategy seems to be to eliminate any potential questions about internal campaign discord by insisting that the campaign itself does not exist.

But what works for a staff shake up may not be so effective with the Federal Election Commission. Some watchdog organizations contend that this non-campaign campaign could get him into legal hot water. Candidates must follow strict FEC regulations when they raise their campaign war chests, but those regulations don’t apply to candidates who are merely “testing the waters.”  Bush’s ambivalence has attracted the attention of some watchdog organizations. Yesterday, the nonpartisan watchdog groups Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging it to “investigate apparent campaign finance violations by Jeb Bush and his associated Super PAC.” The groups allege that Bush’s super-PAC has violated federal contribution laws in the way it has raised and spent its money:

We are writing to make clear that Bush’s formal declaration of candidacy has absolutely no effect on the allegations made in our May 27 letter requesting an investigation of the Bush Super PAC scheme. In the letter, we showed that Bush already is, and has for some time been, a candidate for federal office under the statutory definition of “candidate” set forth in the federal campaign finance laws. Bush cannot evade the statutory definition of “candidate” by proclaiming he is not a candidate.

On Monday, Bush is expected to announce that his presidential campaign actually does exist.

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