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October 20, 2014

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Angle might think twice before bragging about influence with DeMint

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It’s been well-reported that Republican senate candidate Sharron Angle attempted to trade on her influence with conservative U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in her effort to win the endorsement of Tea Party of Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian.

In the recording of last week’s meeting between the two candidates, Angle brags that she has access to DeMint whenever she wants.

“Whatever juice I have, you have as well,” Angle says on the recording. “You want to see DeMint, I have juice with DeMint. I go to D.C. and say ‘I want to see Jim DeMint,’ he’s right there for me.”

But it’s been mostly overlooked that Angle shouldn’t really be talking to DeMint in the first place.

DeMint, in his effort to remake the Republican Party, has operated an independent expenditure committee that is backing Angle and a handful of other conservative candidates around the country.

Candidates are not allowed to coordinate with independent expenditure groups, who can solicit contributions outside the federal campaign contribution limits.

The Senate Conservative Fund has already spent more than $200,000 in Angle’s race.

In the tape, Ashjian said he wants an apology from the Tea Party Express and others who have criticized him during the campaign in exchange for considering an endorsement of Angle. She makes the point that she isn’t allowed to talk to the Tea Party Express until after the election because they are operating an independent expenditure in her favor.

But she doesn’t mention that she can’t coordinate with DeMint.

Of course, most interpret the federal ban on coordination to mean candidates and independent expenditure committees can’t talk at all. But to violate the law they must specifically coordinate how to spend money on political communication.

So, if Angle asked the Tea Party Express to publicly apologize to Ashjian, she might be violating the law. Asking DeMint to help out Ashjian, on the other hand, might not be.

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