Donors can make unlimited contributions to a super PAC supporting Republican U.S. David Vitter for governor. But it came at a financial cost to Louisiana taxpayers.
The Fund for Louisiana’s Future challenged the constitutionality of a Louisiana law limiting contributions in federal court last year and won.
The victory led to Louisiana taxpayers paying $69,336 in attorney fees and other legal costs run up by the political action committee in its successful challenge.
The payment by the state of Louisiana’s risk management self-insurance program shows up on a campaign finance report filed by The Fund.
“When you challenge a provision of law based on constitutionality you are entitled to pray for relief (of costs) when you are successful,” state ethics administrator Kathleen Allen said Wednesday.
The super PAC attorneys sought relief under a federal provision of law.
The Fund argued that the state law violates the First Amendment clause in the U.S. Constitution by capping individual contributions to political action committees at $100,000 per four-year election cycle. The Fund wanted to raise unlimited contributions. The state Ethics Board refused to lift the ban on contributions over the limit, saying it had no authority to change the law. That prompted The Fund to go to federal court.
Federal Super PACs are allowed to accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, trade associations, unions and other groups, as long as they don’t illegally coordinate with a candidate’s campaign. That’s what The Fund wanted in Louisiana.
As of its July 17 report, The Fund for Louisiana’s Future had $4.43 million in the bank – $1 million of it raised since April.
Lawyers from two law firms represented the Super PAC – Clark Hill PLC with an office in Washington, D.C., and Louisiana-based Phelps Dunbar.
Charles R. Spies, the founder of the Vitter-aligned PAC, is the leader of Clark Hill’s national political law practice and has done work for Vitter in the past. He was one of the attorneys in the case. Court documents indicate he sought a $655 hourly rate.
The $69,336 in attorney fees and other costs the state paid is a far from the $149,670 originally sought but not approved by the court.
Spies formed The Fund for Louisiana’s Future as an independent political action committee for the purpose of supporting Vitter in either Senate or governor’s bids. Spies has said the PAC operates independent of Vitter even though Vitter fundraisers also are paid by the PAC.