Many Options for Franken Campaign Cash

April 04, 2018 06:49 PM

When Minnesota politicians running for office file their latest campaign finance reports later this month, political analysts and journalists will use them to determine who might be favored to win various races.

But the person with the most cash on hand won't have any chance of winning.


That's because Al Franken isn't running.

"It's really difficult to find a case quite like Al Franken's," University of Minnesota political analyst Larry Jacobs said.

Following sexual harassment allegations, Franken announced in December he would resign rather than wait for results of a Senate ethics investigation.

RELATED: At Issue: December 10 - Al Franken Resigns from U.S. Senate

He left office in early January, but still had piles of unused campaign cash that was earmarked for the 2018 campaign.

According to Federal Election Commission reports, Franken still has $3,192,351 cash on hand in his Senate campaign fund. He has an additional $1,101,269 in the Midwest Values PAC he founded.

Ordinarily, Franken could have transferred campaign and PAC cash to other candidates. But there was nothing ordinary about the way Franken left office.

"Al Franken's money is radioactive," Jacobs said. "If he gave it to the Democratic Party, it's likely the Democratic Party would give it to a charity rather than a candidate.

"They just don't want to touch Franken money."

TIMELINE: Franken Allegations

Franken has several options available to him.

In addition to donating to other candidates, which seems unlikely, he could use some of the money to wind down his final office operations, donate to charity or keep it in the bank indefinitely.

"What he can't use it for is his personal use," Jacobs said. "He can't use it for his family, or to put an addition on his house. But he could use it for charity, or to set up a foundation of some sort."

RELATED: With Franken's Resignation, Questions Surround Sudden Senate Seat Opening

Jacobs said it's likely Franken will sit on the money indefinitely while assessing his political future.

There have been cases of other Washington politicians leaving office under the cloud of scandal and later making political comebacks.


Tom Hauser

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