The Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio campaigns are in the midst of a spin fight after releasing their latest fundraising numbers, with the Bush side touting a superior haul of cash and Rubio’s aides boasting a more frugal operation with more cash on hand. Amid the war of words, a Bush aide criticized Rubio’s reliance on anonymous donors and confirmed to msnbc that the former Florida governor supported legislation to rein in the practice.
On Thursday, Bush’s campaign announced they had raised $13.38 million in the third quarter of 2015, which ended September 30, second only to Ben Carson’s impressive $20.77 million performance on the GOP side. As Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz noted in a press release, this was “double what Senator Rubio and Carly Fiorina raised in the same time.” Rubio raised an estimated $6 million while Fiorina raised $6.8 million.
Within minutes, however, Rubio’s campaign emailed reporters to announce they had managed to accumulate more cash on hand ($11 million) than Bush ($10.2 million) thanks to “smart budgeting and fiscal discipline” that included buying used office furniture, using Uber for transportation, and flying on budget airlines.
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This prompted some snark from Bush spokesman Tim Miller, who pointed to heavy advertising from a “dark money” nonprofit supporting Rubio that does not disclose donors.
"Haven't seen the Rubio press release on frugality did it include the $6 million in secret money TV ads they saved money on?” Miller tweeted.
But perhaps those who live in opaque houses shouldn’t throw stones. Bush also enjoys support from a non-profit group that doesn’t disclose donors, Right to Rise Policy Solutions. The group has not run ads, however.
While both Bush and Rubio have said they favor more transparency in campaign finance (Bush has floated allowing unlimited campaign donations, but disclosing them within 48 hours online), neither has publicly called on groups supporting them to disclose their backers or explicitly called for a law that would compel them to do so.
Until now, at least: Asked in an e-mail by msnbc whether Bush’s proposed solution would include legislation to “bar outside groups supportive of a candidate from raising money anonymously” Miller answered in the affirmative.
“Ya he would support a law that would increase transparency and disclosure,” Miller said.
A spokesman for Every Voice, an advocacy group that favors further transparency in campaign finance, hailed the news while calling on Bush to provide further details.
"If this is what the Bush campaign means by 'commitment to transparency,' we’re happy to see it," Adam Smith, communications director at Every Voice, told msnbc. "There are plenty of things that can be done, both through legislation and the regulatory process, to increase transparency in political spending and I’d love to see what he'd support if elected."