Posted: Feb. 1, 2013
BEAUCOUP BUCKS FOR BEAU
By Celia Cohen
For someone who was not on the ballot, Beau Biden had an active year in state politics.
If not a candidate here in Delaware, he was a contributor, seeding the campaigns of fellow Democrats with $30,000, while he also tended to his own coffers.
Biden was most visible during the 2012 election season as a surrogate for the presidential ticket, a three-fer as a vice presidential son, state attorney general and National Guardsman who did a tour in Iraq as a JAG officer, with an assignment to travel around the country and mostly talk about veterans issues.
Still, he did not forget to pay attention to the home front.
During the summer, Biden set up Beau PAC. The advantage of a political action committee is it can take contributions of any size, no matter how large, while candidates are limited to maximum contributions of $1,200 from an individual for statewide races or $600 for local races.
Beau PAC collected $82,000, the bulk of it in $5,000 checks, according to 2012 campaign finance reports on file with the state election commissioner.
Some of the money was homegrown from people like Bart Dalton and Stuart Grant, both lawyers from Greenville, but some of it also came from supporters of Joe Biden's around the country, like Larry Rasky, a Boston communications consultant who worked on the two presidential campaigns for 1988 and 2008.
Some children are bequeathed family heirlooms. Beau Biden's birthright is a list of contributors.
Beau PAC in turn wrote a lot of checks -- $10,000 to the state Democratic Party and $20,000 spread among all of the Democratic legislative candidates in increments of $600 for the most competitive races and $300 for the rest.
This is the way it goes in the symbiotic world of politics. The Biden name brings in the money, and then it can go out to others like Nicole Poore, a rookie candidate who was elected a state senator.
"The PAC was formed to raise money for candidates. Every single Democratic candidate, incumbent or challenger, whether or not they had an opponent, we made a donation to everybody," said Molly Magarik, the political director for Beau PAC.
In the time-honored tradition of Joe Biden, the PAC stayed out of party primaries, the contributions flowing only after the Election Day field was set.
Meanwhile, Beau Biden toned down the fund raising for his own campaign treasury, named "Biden for Attorney General, " in consideration of the candidates who were up in 2012, but he kept it going enough to retain campaign consultants and staff and cover his political travel expenses. He was left with a balance of $99,000, according to his year-end campaign finance report.
Biden is set to run for a third term as attorney general in 2014. What comes next, who knows, but a PAC is generally regarded as a sign of future ambition. Governor? Senator?
Whatever, it does not hurt to have instilled good will by distributing checks to other Democrats, particularly as the winners of statewide office increasingly seem to be determined in Democratic primaries while the Republicans are in eclipse.
In politics, a PAC is a way of doing well by doing good.