Hillary Clinton Might Have To Announce Within Two Weeks To Stay On The Right Side Of The FEC

Hillary Clinton’s stealth operation to take over as Commander-in-Chief is the worst kept secret in Washington, D.C., but could be official as soon as next week. If recent reports of the Clinton camp nabbing two floors of uber-trendy Brooklyn office digs turn out to be true, Hillary Clinton might soon have to declare herself an official candidate in the 2016 presidential race so not to violate Federal Election Commission rules. An anonymous source told POLITICO on Friday that Clinton’s team has leased two stories of a building in one of most hipster-friendly neighborhoods in Brooklyn, supposedly to house the official Clinton campaign headquarters.

Clinton's team haven't commented on whether this is true, but FEC rules require candidates to disclose official campaign plans within 15 days of the first sign of campaign activity. So what’s exactly “official campaign activity,” you ask? I mean, you could buy special “Ready for Hillary” Manhattan glasses from the super PAC's online store for forever (which came in handy for many during Sunday night’s season premiere of Mad Men), and I’m sure by now the HillaryBus has made a stop at a college campus near you.

According to the FEC's campaign guide, wannabe candidates can raise and spend funds up to $5,000 in order to “test the waters” without officially declaring a run for office. In an email to Bustle, FEC spokesperson Judith Ingram referenced the agency's campaign guide and website and gave a run-down on what else qualifies as “official campaign activity” and not “testing the waters."

Campaigning (as opposed to testing the waters) is apparent, for example, when individuals:

• Make or authorize statements that refer to themselves as candidates (“Smith in 2014” or “Smith for Senate”);

• Use general public political advertising to publicize their intention to campaign;

• Raise more money than what is reasonably needed to test the waters or amass funds(seed money) to be used after candidacy is established;

• Conduct activities over a protracted period of time or shortly before the election; or

• Take action to qualify for the ballot.

Ingram was mum on whether signing a lease would qualify as "official campaign activity." “The regulations aren’t that specific,” wrote Ingram in an e-mail to Bustle.

News outlets such as The Washington Post contend that signing a lease would definitely be "official campaign activity." Clinton staff have yet to comment, but it may soon indeed be time for them to get the ball rolling on an official announcement. “Ready for Hillary” merch such as champagne glasses, cat collars, and even this totally adorable hoodie for your dog is leaving very few convinced by the Clinton camp’s “It’s Complicated” Facebook relationship status.

A conservative watchdog filed a complaint with the FEC on Thursday asking the agency to investigate whether Clinton might be way past the “testing waters” stage and in violation of FEC regulations.

Because if dog hoodies and totally sweet Brooklyn office digs aren’t a sign of commitment, what else is?

Images: Ready For Hillary