Politicians received nearly $600,000 from beyond the grave

It’s a well known fact that politicians and political parties will take money from anybody, but even they may be a little spooked at the size of donations coming from dead contributors.

USA Today reports that “deceased” individuals have given over $586,000 to political parties and candidates for federal office since the beginning of 2009.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, the money was apparently provided by just 32 dead donors.

The largest medium for donations from the dead was the Democratic National Committee, which raked in over $245,000 in contributions. The next-largest beneficiary was the Libertarian National Committee at $163,000, followed by the Green Party’s campaign fund at $96,000.

While the practice may seem a little underhanded, campaign contributions from the dead are perfectly legal, much like bequeathing money to a favorite charity in your will.

But the same election laws that restrict warm-bodied donors still apply, limiting yearly contributions to $5,000 per candidate each election cycle and $32,400 to a political party each year. Lump sums left in wills must be paid year-over-year as installments.

A federal appellate court in Washington D.C. will soon hear a case seeking to overturn this ban. The Libertarian National Committee is suing the FEC for the right to the full $217,734 bequeathed to the LNC by Tennessean Raymond Groves Burrington after his death in 2007.

“This is pure free speech,” said Alan Gura, the attorney representing the Libertarians in the case. “A dead person can’t corrupt someone.”

The question of ghostly political donations first arose last Wednesday, after reports appeared that Republican donor Bob Perry contributed $100,000 through a super PAC to Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign on June 3. Mr. Perry died on April 13 of this year.

The super PAC in question, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, said a computer glitch had caused the wrong date to appear. They have since filed an updated report with the FEC.

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