Dan Backer is the founding attorney of political.law PLLC (formerly DB Capitol Strategies PLLC), a campaign finance and political law firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Backer was born in Russia and emigrated with his family to the U.S. in the late 1970s.
Backer is the general counsel for the pro-Donald Trump Great America PAC, Committee to Defend the President PAC, and Great America Alliance 501(c)(4) organization. He is also the founder and president of the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, and serves as a director of Accuracy in Media.
In 1999, Backer received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He received a law degree from George Mason University (now Antonin Scalia Law School) in 2009. In 2011, Backer completed a master's certification in PAC management at George Washington University.
Representing Shaun McCutcheon, Backer was consigliere of the U.S. Supreme Court case McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The plaintiffs challenged biennial aggregate campaign limits established in 1974. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor, "[striking] down the aggregate limits on the amount an individual may contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties, and political action committees combined." As a result of the McCutcheon decision, individuals may now contribute to as many federal candidates, political parties, or PACs as they want, as long as contributions do not exceed $2,700 (or the otherwise applicable "base limit") in each case.
Backer was plaintiff's counsel in the 2011 case Carey v. FEC, which allowed PACs not connected to corporations, unions, and trade associations to create super PACs within their structure, or hybrid PACs. Backer argued prior laws governing campaign contributions "prohibit[ed] a non-connected political committee from soliciting and accepting unlimited contributions to one bank account designated for independent expenditures, while maintaining a second, separate bank account designated for source- and amount-limited contributions to candidates and their authorized political committees." He claimed fewer spending restrictions give "policy-oriented PACs new electoral-oriented muscle."
In 2013, Backer helped establish the Stop Hillary PAC in order "to ensure Hillary Clinton never becomes President of the United States." The PAC, which was critical of Clinton's handling of the Benghazi attacks, renamed itself after the November 2016 election as the Committee to Defend the President. Backer serves as the PAC's treasurer and counsel.
In 2017, Backer filed a complaint on behalf of the Committee with the FEC, accusing Clinton's 2016 campaign and the Democratic Party of "an unprecedented, massive, nationwide multi-million dollar conspiracy." The FEC complaint alleged an $84 million money laundering scheme between the Clinton campaign, Democratic National Committee (DNC), Democratic state parties, and Democratic mega-donors, in violation of multiple campaign finance laws. The complaint garnered significant media coverage from the Washington Post, FoxNews.com, and dozens of regional news outlets.
In April 2018, Backer sued the FEC after it refused to act on the complaint. To date, Clinton, the DNC, Democratic state parties, and their donors implicated in the complaint have not released their response to the FEC.
On behalf of the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, Backer also filed an FEC complaint against Clinton's campaign, the DNC, their law firm Perkins Coie, and Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy that authored the “pee dossier,” for violating campaign finance laws. Backer claimed those parties concealed payments made to and received by Fusion GPS, which hired Steele to produce the dossier.
In February 2019, Backer (on behalf of the Foundation) filed an FEC complaint against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), accusing her of illegally funneling thousands of dollars in official campaign funds through "Brand New Congress PAC" and "Brand New Congress LLC" to her boyfriend, Riley Roberts. Backer also filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, accusing Ocasio-Cortez of improperly converting House resources to her non-official, personal use. By obtaining an official House email address for her boyfriend, the complaint argued, Ocasio-Cortez falsely designated him a "staff" member and therefore violated House rules.
Backer has published numerous op-ed columns criticizing Democrats for violating campaign finance laws and ignoring the Committee's complaint, in addition to op-eds promoting free speech and less restrictive campaign finance rules. Backer also criticizes what he perceives as anti-speech activism and biased news coverage.
Backer lives in Vienna, Virginia with his wife and three children.