Finally, there’s good news for Aaron Schock. He can fulfill his wish to try to square things with his congressional district. And he can do it in the most sincere way possible politically: by putting his money where his mouth is. Schock can use his campaign cash — about $3.3 million — to cover the costs of special elections for his replacement. That’s the opinion of a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. … He has no obligation toward the special elections. Taxpayers get stuck with those surprise bills. How much? Hard to say. The 18th Congressional District has 21 separate voting entities: 19 counties, plus the cities of Peoria and Bloomington. Each will bear the expense of a primary election and general election this summer. Peoria County (not including the city) is looking at perhaps $150,000 in added costs. McLean County, which likely has the largest population base in the district, might have to pay $293,000 — and that doesn’t even include Bloomington.
… Such questions are sometimes hard to answer, considering the layers and layers of laws and limits regarding campaign spending. Indeed, when I talked to the media office of the Federal Election Commission, I got a lot of convoluted responses qualified with “maybe” and “perhaps.”
But I found a true expert: Bradley A. Smith. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he served as an FEC commissioner from 2000 to 2005. He was vice chairman in 2004 and chairman in 2005. Now a professor at Capital University Law School, Smith is considered (in media and political circles) as one of the country’s top authorities of campaign-finance law.
Aside of political spending, there is wide leeway — and really no limits — in spending down a war chest, Smith told me.