"Trust Huckabee" Tied To Huckabee Donors; Faces Legal Questions

Trust Huckabee, the new pro-Mike group that's making persuasion phone calls in Iowa, calls itself a project of Common Sense Issues, which is organized under section 501(c)4 of the tax code.

An extension portion of the TrustHuckabee website is devoted to recruiting, signing up and training precinct captains.

But 504(c)4 groups cannot legally recruit precinct captains for an electoral contest, much less for a specific candidate. It's a soft money operation paying for a basic presidential campaign function, which some campaign finance lawyers might

And it begs the question: if there were no coordination, then the group could very easily duplicate effort and mess up Huckabee's own field efforts. That is -- campaign precinct captains needs to coordinate in order to make sure they're not turning out the same voters. The campaign can't turn over field responsibility to this group, and they can't figure out together where to place people.

The TrustHuckabee operation is extensive.

An internal e-mail obtained by this column from a TrustHuckabee precinct captain states that the group plans to make 695,000 voter identification calls between November 5 and Dec. 5. Beginning today, three phone banks will call all identified Huckabee supporters to recruit captains for all 1,784 precincts.

Next week, the group will send the precinct captains lists of Huckabee supporters in their area. Beginning December 20, the precinct captains will contact the supporters in their precincts and ask them to caucus on Huckabee's behalf.

Who's behind this group?

Well, Common Sense was founded in advance of the 2006 cycle by two Proctor and Gamble executives, Harold "Zeke" Swift and Nathan Estruth.Swift is listed as the consumer product giants' Global Privacy Director.

Swift and Estruth are major Huckabee donors, according to a copy of a fundraising invitiaton obtained by this column. They're listed as members of the host committee for a November 19 fundraiser in Mason, Ohio.

The Politico's Martin reports that Patrick Davis, a former NRSC political director, is running the group. I've called Davis and will pass along any answers to these questions he might provide.