"A federal candidate cannot solicit a million dollars, let's start there," said Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center when The Post reached him by telephone. "If he's there announcing his candidacy, he cannot ask anybody for a million dollars. The most he can ask is the contribution limit; from a PAC that's $5,000."
Huckabee's campaign, of course, can't take a million-dollar contribution, suggesting that his comment was pointing people to give to a super PAC. Huckabee can ask people to give to the PAC, but only up to the limits stated above.
What's more, that PAC has to be independent of Huckabee's campaign. "To the extent that he's implying that the money is given to him or will help him, that undermines the concept of independence," Noble said. Huckabee didn't say to give him the money, which would suggest a coordination that could violate the law. But he'd certainly be happy to have people give to Pursuing America's Greatness, the PAC formed to bolster his candidacy.
"It's what everyone knows — that giving money to the super PAC is the same as giving the money to him," Noble added. "The legal fiction is saying, oh, you're not giving me the money. But in this unguarded moment, he actually spoke what the truth is." Any candidate is happy to have millions of dollars flow into PACs that are supporting them.
Huckabee was making a joke, as he does. But the law on this is clear, and while boundaries between PACs and campaigns are eroding, the boundary against candidates making requests for a million dollars is clear.
As Noble put it: "Words matter."