The RGA Right Direction PAC is a Washington, D.C.-based super PAC, registered with federal regulators to make independent expenditures supporting or opposing candidates. So what is it doing giving $1 million directly to the Republican running for governor of Indiana? The donation to Mike Pence, the largest to his campaign, appears to be a way around state laws limiting corporate contributions to candidates. “In one way, it’s legal,” said Andrew Downs of the Center for Indiana Politics, at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. “But if you say this is a way to give in excess of corporate limits, that’s also absolutely true.” Right Direction is funded entirely by the Republican Governors Association, a so-called “527” organization dedicated to electing as many Republicans to governorships as possible — a mission fueled by contributions from some of the largest corporations in the country. In Indiana, candidates can accept unlimited donations from individuals and political action committees but only $5,000 from corporations and unions. Corporations and unions can also give to PACs, but only in small sums. Whether the check to Pence was drawn on a bank account that contained corporate money is not a matter of public record.
In an email, RGA spokesman Michael Schrimpf said “nothing in our reports suggests” that the organization gave corporate funds to Pence. All RGA expenditures, he said, come from a general fund. “It’s the new model of disclosure subterfuge,” said Bob Biersack, a senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics and former longtime Federal Election Commission official. “It’s not what a normal human being would call transparent.” The donation to Pence appeared in FEC filings July 15. It is the latest in a series of campaign finance maneuvers by the RGA which have prompted legal challenges in two states claiming the group violated limits on corporate giving.