One of the biggest guessing games in Minnesota politics is whether Gov. Tim Pawlenty plans to run for re-election next year. Pawlenty won't tip his hand until after the legislative session because he doesn't want his political plans to add even another level of contention to the debate over the budget.
But the governor's campaign reported today that Pawlenty is sitting on a healthy and growing war chest. The governor raised just over $750,000 last year and increased his cash on hand from about $375,000 to nearly $580,000. Not a bad place to start from if he is planning to run.
If he chooses not to run, to what purposes (if any) can he direct the funds? For instance, can he convert the funds to, say, an 'exploratory committee'? Or to a 'TPawPAC'? (Some outlets are reporting a new 'SarahPAC' that is presumed to be a preparatory move for 2012.)
It's uncertain. State law (statute 10A.27 Subd. 9c) prohibits state candidates from giving any of their campaign money to a federal candidate. The gray area, according to the Campaign Finance Board's Gary Goldsmith, is that a candidate may be able to contribute the money to a Federal PAC (including a PAC that was set up by a politician). Goldsmith said he would have to ask his attorneys on whether state law allows it. He isn't certain on whether federal law allows it.
@Tom and bsimon
MN law does not allow for Federal PAC to donate to State Candidates or State PAC. Many Partys and PAC keep 2 accounts in MN, one state and one federal - so they can take federal PAC money.
As far as Federal PAC I don't think they can take state (or local) level candidate committee. They, a Federal PAC, can take $5000 per year from a local, district or state Party Unit.
So I think that Gov. Tim Pawlenty could donate to every local, distict and state party unit and in turn they could donate to a federal PAC. I'm sure there are some checks on this but I can not find any currently. (It would be illegal, IMO, to direct that the local unit would have to give the money from the local candidate to the PAC)
I am no Lawyer, but I do work very close with the FEC in my job and I think what I wrote is very close to the current guidlines.