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De León Can't Use Funds Raised For State Race In U.S. Senate Run

Damian Dovarganes / AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown, center, arrives with Senate President pro Tempore Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, right, and Assembly speaker Toni Atkins, second from right, to sign landmark legislation SB 350 to combat climate change.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

California State Senate Leader Kevin de León won’t be able to transfer the nearly $4 million dollars he’s amassed in his state campaign accounts to his federal campaign for U.S. Senate.

That doesn’t mean, however, that de León — who is challenging incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein — has no options for how to use that money.

“He can probably give the money to a Super PAC that is established and that would support other candidates. If he coordinates with that Super PAC in any way, if he discusses with them how to use the money, then it very well may be illegal,” Larry Noble, director of the Campaign Legal Center in Washington D.C., a nonprofit campaign finance reform organization recently told Capital Public Radio.

Noble said the ban on using state campaign money in federal races is not unique to California. Federal campaign finance laws prohibit such transfers in all 50 states.

“Money given to a federal candidate should be raised specifically for that purpose so that the donor is actually having their wishes followed. You don’t want money given for a very different purpose all of a sudden ending up in a federal campaign,” he added.

Federal candidates, on the other hand, can transfer money raised between their federal accounts. Noble said this creates a federal incumbent advantage.

Feinstein has raised about $4 million dollars for her reelection.

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