(NEWSnet/AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris has been one of President Joe Biden's staunchest defenders following his shaky performance at the June 27 debate. But she also has emerged as a potential option to lead the party if Biden decides to withdraw.

If that occurred, what would happen to the campaign's $91 million cash on hand? Combined with allied Democratic organizations, the re-election effort has access to $240 million, the campaign said.

Since the account was registered with Federal Election Commission in the name of both candidates, Harris could use those funds for a presidential pursuit, according to Kenneth Gross, senior political law counsel at Akin Gump and former associate general counsel for FEC.

Can donors receive refunds?

Only if the campaign approves. Legal scholars agree that if donors were to ask for money back after a candidate switch, the campaign must agree to the transfer. That means donors don't have an automatic right to a refund, Gross said.

What if neither Biden nor Harris is nominee?


According to Gross, their campaign probably would have to return the funding. Any donations designated for the primary, which Biden won, would stay with the campaign, Gross said, something that could apply to any money collected by Biden-Harris until the Democratic National Convention in August.

According to Bradley A. Smith, professor at Capital University Law School in Ohio, if Biden left the race and Harris isn’t named nominee, their former campaign could transfer only $2,000 of the money collected to another candidate.

Could the account be converted to PAC?


Maybe, but it might not be worthwhile.
According to Gross, if neither Biden nor Harris  become the party's nominee, they could opt to designate the campaign funds for a super PAC or the party itself. If that transfer did happen, Smith said, “the vast bulk of it would have to be in independent expenditures, which tend to be less effective.”

If the account were converted to a political action committee, the new entity would have a limit on what it could send to the new candidate, said Saurav Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform for Campaign Legal Center.

What else could happen?


Presidential race options aside, Smith suggested the Biden-Harris funds could be transferred to Democratic committees backing House and Senate candidates, or punted down the electoral timeline, to “support Democrats in future years.”

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