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The Rules Don't Apply To Hillary Clinton ... Or Any Of The Other Un-Candidates

Hillary Clinton speaks to the media after keynoting a Women's Empowerment Event at the United Nations on Tuesday in New York City. Clinton answered questions about recent allegations of an improperly used email account during her tenure as secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton is, at least for now, not officially running for president. That's what she has said all along, and now all six members of the Federal Election Commission are on record agreeing with her.

The commissioners — three Republicans and three Democrats — unanimously voted they found "no reason to believe" that the former secretary of state crossed the legal line between non-candidate and candidate and that the Super PAC Ready For Hillary is acting as her campaign committee.

Stop Hillary PAC filed the complaint in December. The complaint raises several other questions beyond Clinton's alleged candidacy, and on a few, the commission deadlocked. Democrats wanted to press the case; Republicans wanted to close it. The tie goes to the Republicans. The commission voted last month.

Why is this news? Well, Clinton has been laying the foundation for a White House run for a few years now. She and a platoon of Republican hopefuls are all busy with campaign-like activities — while insisting that they are not candidates.

And why does it matter? It's easier and more lucrative to be an un-candidate. Under federal law, candidates can't do things these un-candidates are doing right now — notably, traveling on donors' private planes and soliciting six- and seven-figure contributions for the treasuries of friendly Super PACs.

Federal election law — what's left of it — is intended to keep candidates away from the blandishments of lavish gifts and millionaires' money.

But as long as Clinton and the others hold on to their non-candidacy, the rules don't apply.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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