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Baucus undecided on what he'll do with millions in contributions

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 08 2014 06:11:00 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 08 2014 06:14:41 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Senator Max Baucus is trying to decide what he'll do with campaign contributions since he announced he won't run for re-election.

According to the Federal Election Commission's website, Senator Max Baucus had close to $3.3 million in his Friends of Max Baucus account as of September. Nearly half of that comes from individual and committee contributions.

MSU Assistant Political Science Professor Eric Austin tells us the rest of that money likely came from other sorts of contributions.

The Friends of Max Baucus account indicates Baucus has already returned $1.2 million in contributions. Spokesperson Kathy Weber tells us that money was given back because the money was meant solely for the general election.

She tells us Baucus hasn't decided what he'll do with the remainder of the money, but Austin says he has flexibility. He tells us Baucus' decision might be dictated by whether he plans to return to politics, and his nomination as Ambassador to China.

"He could make contributions to PACs that he wants to be involved with. It seems pretty unlikely that he is going to make contributions to PACs at this point, but if he sees himself coming back into politics, that's certainly a possibility," says Austin.

Instead, Austin predicts Baucus will be interested in supporting other candidates.

"The most likely option is for him to be looking at other candidates that he wants to support directly, and I'm sure that the nominating and election committees are going to be hoping for that," explains Austin.

Austin adds, depending on how he envisions his legacy, Baucus may have charities he wants that money to go toward.

Weber tells us they're checking with their campaign compliance team to see if any of the guidelines have changed now that Baucus has been nominated as the Ambassador to China. Representatives with the FEC tell us it's unlikely the nomination will impact Baucus' options.