JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The next permutation of political donating in Missouri has emerged in response to the passage of a new constitutional amendment in November which overhauled Missouri’s campaign finance rules.
Rep. Holly Rehder will begin fundraising for a new political action committee (PAC), called “Holly PAC,” which will donate to other candidate committees, though without her oversight, approval or direction. Those decisions will fall to the discretion of PAC Treasurer James Thomas, and it will not legally be able to benefit Rehder in her own campaigns.
Amendment 2, which passed by a 70-30 margin, limited campaign contributions to $2,600 per candidate per election, meaning a donor now can only donate a maximum of $5,200 to an individual candidate in an election cycle – $2,600 during a primary and $2,600 in the general.
However, another major function of the bill will stop contributions between candidate campaigns. For example, Sen. Caleb Rowden received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Republican senators in the run up to his win in 2016 over former Rep. Stephen Webber. Exchanges from committee to committee were common on both sides of the aisle before the approval of Amendment 2.
Rehder has been one of the most prolific Republican fundraisers in the Missouri House over her tenure, and this new endeavor, she says, is a way to ensure she can help the caucus.
“In the past, I’ve been very aggressive at raising money and giving to individual candidates, and of course, we can’t do that with the new rules,” Rehder said. “So, our only other opportunity to help other candidates are these outside PACs.”
The Holly PAC will likely not be alone. Rehder said other candidates had also begun looking at exploring the same option. The Holly PAC, and the other which will probably follow, will still be limited to those $2,600 maximum contributions per candidate per election, but it will still allow skilled fundraisers to help other candidates on their side of certain issues. For Rehder, that means helping candidates with tort and labor reform measures. The PAC has about 40 seats targeted for the 2018 race.
Aaron Baker, an associate with Axiom Strategies, said her leadership on issues like right-to-work made her someone who could help candidates and fellow House members who have been targeted by opposition groups in next year’s races. Axiom is the political strategy group that will run Rehder’s 2018 House campaign.
“Holly has been aggressive in trying to find ways to support her colleagues’ re-elections. You’ve probably noticed she isn’t afraid to take on tough issues like right-to-work,” Baker said. “A lot of her colleagues will be attacked for taking on trial lawyers and labor unions next year. Holly is a leader on many of these issues.”