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 congressional and presidential candidates and political parties since Jan. 1, 2009, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.
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 on its filing, and quickly submitted a new report to the FEC showing 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.
Stefan Passantino, a campaign-finance lawyer in Washington, said bequeathing donations to politicians and parties is an option for people who were active in elections and believe “the best thing I can do with my money is to help make the world a better place.”
Federal rules establish some restrictions on political giving from the grave, however. The donations, for instance, must comply with applicable contribution limits. Currently, an individual cannot donate more than $5,200 to a federal candidate during an election cycle and no more than $32,400 to a political party each year.