There's been a steady stream of chatter in recent months about where Hillary Clinton's hypothetical presidential campaign headquarters will be potentially located. The former secretary of state's team has spent the last month narrowing down a location somewhere in Brooklyn, New York, with the goal of having an office space up and running as soon as Clinton formally enters the race.
This is, admittedly, the most insider of inside baseball, and nobody would be blamed for tuning it out. (Next, we'll be talking about how many water coolers the campaign office will have on the second floor.)
But on Friday morning Politico reported that someone connected to Clinton had, as expected, signed a lease on a campaign office space in Brooklyn, out of which the organization will run its national campaign. And that's something that would be 100 percent worth noting.
Why? Because that would formally qualify Clinton as a federal candidate for office under Federal Election Commission rules -- meaning that she would have just 15 days to formally declare her candidacy.
“Signing a lease for a campaign headquarters indicates that Ms. Clinton has decided to run for federal office and that makes her a candidate under campaign finance laws,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “The bottom line is that if she’s decided she’s running for president, and if signing a lease is indicative of that much, then she is a candidate under federal law.”
Clinton has been open about the fact that she is considering a presidential run, which according to Federal Election Commission guidelines puts her in the “testing the waters” stage. That legal category puts certain fundraising limits on her would-be campaign but does not yet categorize her as a candidate for federal office.
Under that “testing the waters” label, Clinton has aggressively courted top talent for her campaign-in-waiting and has even sent members of her staff to key early voting states like Iowa in anticipation of a run. Signing a lease on a headquarters, however, would cross a clear legal threshold. (So would starting to pay her campaign staff, nearly all of whom have reportedly been either volunteering their time or delaying their start dates -- for now.)
Of course, it’s still unclear whether such an agreement was really signed, who signed it, or when it was signed. But if the campaign-in-waiting has in fact agreed to rent a space to run its operation, Clinton's formal announcement isn't too far behind.
In other words, the clock is ticking.