'See you in court' money: Biden’s campaign has ‘pre-funded’ a massive legal budget

'See you in court' money: Biden’s campaign has ‘pre-funded’ a massive legal budget
Gage Skidmore
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With Republicans engaging in a variety of voter suppression tactics and President Donald Trump refusing to commit to accepting the election results if they favor former Vice President Joe Biden, the Biden campaign is expecting multiple legal battles after election day. And an important part of the campaign's budget, journalists Scott Bixby and Hanna Trudo emphasize in an article published by the Daily Beast on October 20, is its legal budget.

Bixby and Trudo note that Biden's campaign entered "the final full month before the election with a record $432 million in cash on hand" — a figure the Beast attributes to a statement by campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. Biden's campaign, according to the Beast reporters, "could suspend fundraising entirely and drop more than $20 million a day, every day, until the election without bouncing a single check."

Bixby and Trudo explain, "According to top-level donors and an ambitious schedule of upcoming fundraisers, there's no plan to slow down — just in case the trove of 'fuck you' money needs to become 'see you in court' money…. The campaign is still leaning hard on its donor network, explicitly pointing ahead to its potential need to fund legal battles in multiple states following the election."

One of the Beast's sources, described by Bixby and Trudo as a "top-level" Democratic donor, told the online publication that Biden's campaign has "pre-funded" the legal costs it anticipates. The campaign, according to the reporters, is setting aside money for legal fees because of "lingering anxieties that President Donald Trump will make good on his public statements implying that he may refuse to accept election results if he loses, which could trigger court fights in multiple states and appellate courts — the kind of legal battle that could get very expensive very quickly."

"Even if the election is wrapped up more tidily than Trump's warnings indicate," the Beast reporters point out, "legal fights over ballot access have already begun in states around the country. In Michigan alone, a court case seeking to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots beyond 8 p.m. on Election Day seems destined for the (Michigan) Supreme Court after a state appeals court ruled, on Friday, that the extension — the result of a Democratic suit seeking to curb limits on mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic — was unnecessary."

Michael Gwin, a spokesman for Biden's campaign, told the Beast, "The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure the election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to create fear and confusion with our voting system, or interfere in the democratic process. We're confident that we'll have free and fair elections this November, and that voters will decisively reject Donald Trump's erratic, divisive and failed leadership at the ballot box."

Richard H. Pildes, who teaches constitutional law at New York University Law School, observed that these days, large legal budgets are normal for political campaigns.

Pildes told the Beast, "Campaigns these days do typically set up separate funds for recounts and election contests for possible post-election litigation. The reason is that under federal election law, a campaign can raise contributions to these funds from donors who have already maxed out their contributions to the campaigns."

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