The dead can’t vote, but they can give money to politicians. Thirty-two people listed on federal campaign records as deceased have contributed more than $586,000 to political parties and congressional and presidential candidates since Jan. 1, 2009, a USA TODAY review of Federal Election Commission filings found. Last week, news emerged of a possible donation by a deceased contributor in a high-profile Senate race. A Super PAC aiding Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election reported Wednesday that it had received a $100,000 contribution from Houston home builder and GOP mega-donor Bob Perry on June 3 — nearly two months after his April 13 death. Officials with the Super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership said a computer-software glitch inserted the wrong contribution date. The group quickly submitted a new report to the Election Commission showing that the donation had been received the day before Perry died.
But the episode put a spotlight on the legality of campaign contributions from the departed. Under federal campaign rules, individuals can make candidates and political committees the beneficiaries of their estates, much in the way they can leave money to favorite charities.
… A case now pending before a federal appellate court in Washington, D.C., seeks to overturn those limits for deceased donors. The lawsuit involves Raymond Groves Burrington, a Knoxville, Tenn., man who left more than $217,000 to the Libertarian National Committee in 2007.
The party argues it should have received the money in a lump-sum, rather than in annual installments. “This is pure free speech,” said Alan Gura, an attorney representing the Libertarian Party. “A dead person can’t corrupt someone.” Gura said Burrington wasn’t known to party officials before his death.