Baucus Must Decide What To Do With $4.8M War Chest

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – U.S. Sen. Max Baucus’ decision not to run for re-election in 2014 leaves the Montana Democrat with more than $4.8 million in the bank and no campaign to spend it on.

But he has several options with what he can do with all that cash, according to Federal Election Commission regulations.

He could transfer any amount to national, state or local Democratic committees. He could donate to other candidates — within state and federal contribution limits. He could use some cash to defray travel costs and expenses related to winding down his office. He also could turn his campaign committee into a political-action committee.

The only real restriction is that Baucus can’t spend the money for his personal use, according to the FEC.

Baucus’ campaign organization will be closing in the coming weeks. Baucus officials say he intends to support the Montana Democratic Party, Democratic candidates and charities or foundations Baucus believes in.

“There’s been no bigger supporter than Max Baucus of the Montana Democratic Party throughout all the highs and lows over the years. Max will continue to be looking for ways to support the party, Montana Democratic candidates and causes as he always has,” John Lewis, Baucus’ state director, said in a written statement to The Associated Press.

Whatever he does will be in line with FEC rules and requirements, Baucus aides said.

Baucus can no longer accept contributions since his public withdrawal announcement, according to the FEC. Any donations made after Tuesday must be returned or re-designated within 60 days.

The last campaign finance filing by Friends of Max Baucus, the senator’s campaign committee, was for the three-month period from Jan. 1 to March 31. It shows Baucus raised nearly $1.56 million in that period, and he had nearly $4.87 million cash on hand.

That amount dwarfed the fundraising efforts of Baucus’ only two declared challengers, Republicans Corey Stapleton, a former state senator, and Champ Edmunds, a current state representative.

Stapleton raised about $140,000 in the first quarter, while Edmunds raised $6,255.

Since Baucus’ made his announcement Tuesday, others have expressed interest in jumping into the race, including former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer and current Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.

These are the non-campaign related expenses Baucus can spend his campaign money on:

— Travel expenses for him, his wife and his son, if they are accompanying him on an official trip.

— Winding-down costs for six months after leaving office, including moving expenses.

— Donations to charities.

— Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local party committee.

— Donations to federal, state and local candidates, subject to individual contribution limits.

— Ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with official duties.

— Gifts or donations of nominal value to people other than family members.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.