Prospective CD3 candidate lays groundwork for bid against Heck, asks FEC for permission to be paid consultant to non-profit

Erin Bilbray, whose father was a congressman and who has evinced an interest in taking on Rep. Joe Heck in 2014, appears to be getting closer to jumping into the race, pending the results of a request she made last week to the Federal Election Commission.

In the missive, which is attached below and was written by experienced election law attorneys from Perkins Coie, they reveal that the incipient candidate has not yet raised more than $5,000. But, the attorneys say, she has left her position as the head of Emerge Nevada, a group she founded to elect more Democratic women, to become a consultant to the group for $5,000 a month.

The question her attorneys asked of the FEC: Can Bilbray, whose father was elected to Harry Reid's congressional seat in 1986 and served through 1994, be a consultant to the organization and a candidate at the same time? That is, is there enough separation?

The key paragraphs:

While the law prohibits federal candidates from soliciting and spending nonfederal funds in connection with an election, the law does not otherwise prohibit a federal candidate from receiving compensation from an organization that engages in activities in coimection with an election. To the contrary, the Commission has recognized that candidates may interact with entities that raise and spend nonfederal funds, provided that those interactions do not trigger any of the Act's enumerated prohibitions. For example, federal candidates may consult with nonfederal candidates and committees to help them plan how to raise and spend nonfederal funds, provided that they do not actually solicit, receive, direct, transfer, spend, or disburse nonfederal funds.''

Thus, after triggering candidacy, Ms. Bilbray-Kohn would be permitted to serve as a paid consultant to Emerge Nevada imder the conditions outlined above. In the past, the Commission has assumed that the activities of a section 527 organization are "in connection with an election."'^ Even so, Ms. Bilbray-Kohn would not engage in any of the activities specifically prohibited by the Act. She would not "solicit," "direct" or "receive" any funds for tiie organization. She would not have the authority to make expenditures for the organization and she would not "transfer" or "spend" any nonfederalfimds.Her role would be limited to providing training and advice to women candidates for state and local office in Nevada - activities that the Commission has elsewhere approved.

The lawyers conclude by asking for an expeditious answer. My guess is if she gets the answer she wants, Bilbray is in. She may be in anyhow.

(Photo from emergenevada.com)