GOP Georgia congressman Paul Broun has a slight variation on Herbert Hoover’s 1928 presidential campaign of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage?” Broun would like to add an AR-15 in every home or at least one home. Broun is offering a drawing to his supporters to win an AR-15 to show his unparalleled support for gun ownership.
Here is the message received by Georgia voters:
You may recall Broun from his prior controversy for calling evolution a theory from the pit of Hell.
What is most interesting to me is the prospect of using campaign funds for what is a type of raffle. I presume the gun was purchased with campaign funds or donated by a campaign supporter. However, Broun is now using campaign resources to give away a valuable item. I have looked at the campaign laws and I do not see a clear violation. So here is my question: why couldn’t a candidate simply run continual raffles to get gifts to voters? There are the obvious provisions on vote buying:
§ 597. Expenditures to influence voting
Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and
Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
However, this is being done long before the election and he is not demanding an assurance of a vote even though he is making the offer only to supporters. What would stop such a distribution of multiple guns or ammunition or other prizes to supporters?
This is obviously separate from the issue of the prize in this case being a gun. However, it is a lawful product and presumably the raffle is limited to adults allowed to own such a weapon. Yet, this is a valuable item being given with campaign funds or resources to a voter. Is it lawful simply because it is a one-time event?