When friends of Carly Fiorina launched Carly for America, their team was mildly concerned that the Federal Elections Commission would be hot on their heels for naming their group after their candidate. Since Super PACs are supposed to be “legally unaffiliated” with the candidates they support, so that they can maintain an air of neutrality in their fundraising that doesn’t fool anyone. They thought, perhaps naively, that the Federal government would be willing to interpret the rule liberally in the case of certain conservative organizations.
I’m not ashamed to say that I love Carly. But no one, not even the former CEO of Hewlett Packard and affiliates, should assume that the FEC will apply its rules – even its incredibly vague ones – liberally. Accordingly, the FEC issued a warning: change your name or face a fine. In deference to the vaguaries of the rule, Carly for America did change its name. It announced, today, that it’s become the fully FEC-compliant, CARLY for America.
“You must amend your Statement of Organization to change the name of your political committee so that it does not include the candidate’s name and/or provide further clarification regarding the nature of your committee,” an FEC analyst wrote to the committee May 17.
So after some deliberation, on Monday the Fiorina super PAC changed its name. It’s no longer Carly for America. It’s now Conservative, Authentic, Responsive Leadership for You and for America – though it will be known by the acronym CARLY for America.
The website remains the same. The PAC’s red-and-white logo remains the same. And the FEC rule prohibiting a candidate’s name in the name of a super PAC remains in effect, though with a loophole big enough to drive the super PAC helping to prop up Mrs. Fiorina’s candidacy through it.
CARLY for America spokeswoman Katie Hughes said the PAC had to comply with federal rules.
“The FEC requested that we change our name and we complied,” she said.
The FEC, it seems, was the one that should have known better. After all, Carly’s campaign had barely kicked off before they were trolling late night talk show hosts over lost domain names and setting up “alternative pressers” outside Hillary Clinton events – something they should do more often now that Hillary is waging a war on unfriendly journalists, as I’m sure they could brief the waiting press just as well as Clinton could. The FEC should have rested assured that the people closest to her would follow in kind.
CARLY will continue on, nonplussed, in either iteration.
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