How do you start a super PAC? Ask these Tennessee teens.

A super PAC filed its statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission in late January, but it never raised any money and went out of business this week.

So the Loop reached out to its treasurer, Grant Sgarlata, to find out why.

He called us back between third and fourth period.

Grant, a 17-year-old junior at Fred J. Page High School in Franklin, Tenn., and his two buddies didn’t believe that just anyone could start a super PAC, especially a bunch of kids. So they started to do some research and found out pretty quickly that yes, anyone can.

“It’s this big influential thing, and then I realized there’s no requirements for it and I thought that was entirely ridiculous,” Grant, whose teacher let him miss the beginning of fifth period for this interview, told the Loop. “It’s not even a process to get these forms, you just go on the Internet and print them out. It’s ridiculous that anyone can control one of these potentially influential” groups.

A few clicks on Google, and Grant had all the information he needed to start the Because We Can PAC. He downloaded the forms from the FEC’s Web site and filled them out in less than an hour. That’s when the fun really started.

The three boys aimed to make their application as “ridiculous as possible,” Grant said. He picked “Corporate Antelope” as his official title or position. His friends Brady Harper and Hudson Roberts are “Arch-Mage” and “Not Pope,” respectively. They left blank the section asking for information about the bank accounts where they would deposit funds, because, well, the teens don’t have bank accounts. They created a Web site using the free service Weebly. (Other than a background photo of the Manhattan skyline and the PAC’s name, it’s currently blank.)

Within several days, Grant received the notice from the FEC that his application had been received. And just like that, Because We Can was given an official committee ID number.

“We were doing it literally because we could. That we could just walk up, get this thing and that was it. There’s no way they reviewed it whatsoever,” Grant said.

The boys never intended to raise any money or support a candidate — Grant considers himself an independent and thinks it’s too early to pick a side for 2016 — but they did hope to use their new Web site for political satire. They created a logo: an official-looking seal with a platypus and the Latin words “inserere alienus sermo hic,” which translates to “insert foreign language here.”

The FEC contacted Grant at the end of February — a month after his committee was christened — and said that a “preliminary review” of his committee’s filing showed he hadn’t listed a “campaign depository.” Thinking the gig might be up, he filed a termination request.

“I think what is amazing about this to me is it originated as a joke. We looked at the forms and said, ‘This can’t really be this easy,’ ” Grant said. “If it is that easy, then there is something wrong with the system in place to get this.”

Ellen Weintraub , an FEC commissioner, confirmed for the Loop that there is “no hurdle” to creating a super PAC. If the paperwork is filled out, the FEC doesn’t scrutinize the statements of organization. Everyone who wants to be a part of a political process can be, she said.

And that includes three wise guys who aren’t yet old enough to vote.

A TSA fill-in on tefillin

Why is this travel week different from other travel weeks?

Because it’s Passover and carb-craving Jewish passengers flying to and from family Seders will flood airports carrying with them “unique items,” according to the Transportation Security Administration.

A TSA advisory assures us that its officers are briefed and ready.

“Observant travelers may be wearing a head covering, prayer shawl, and phylacteries — in Hebrew, kippah, tallit, and tefillin,” according to the travel notice on the TSA Web site. “Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzoh, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual. Matzoh can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily.”

To avoid matzoh breakage — trust us, there is nothing worse than matzoh crumbs — Jewish passengers can have their carry-on baggages hand-inspected.

Name her new memoir:The winners

Former first lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, announced on its Web site that her memoir will debut June 10. The publisher calls it “A New Memoir.” Amazon’s Web site calls it “New Memoir.”

She still needs a title. And titles are very important for book sales. Despite the well-known admonition, veteran authors here tell us people do indeed judge a book by its cover and that a clever or interesting title, much like the headline on a story, can make all the difference. But, we can assure you, it’s really hard to come up with good titles.

That’s why, after Clinton said in a recent speech that she didn’t have a title yet — but noted several she liked from winners of the Loop’s “Name That Book” contest last year — we relaunched the contest to offer her more help.

And now, here are the five winners in the latest contest:

1. “Dynasty: The Empire Strikes Back” — submitted by John Brandolino, a federal government employee from Arlington.

2. “From Hair to Eternity” — submitted by Shira Modell, a Federal Trade Commission lawyer from Bethesda.

3. “Dr. Benghazi, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” — submitted by furniture maker Art Drauglis of the District.

4. “Sisterhood of the Traveling Campaign Pantsuit” — submitted by journalist Matt Neufeld of Greenbelt.

5. “Bill Was the Warm-Up Act” — submitted by high school teacher Stephanie Weldon of Silver Spring.

— With Colby Itkowitz

al.kamen@washpost.com

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter:@InTheLoopWP.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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