POLITICO reports that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has hired three senior staffers ahead of a trip to Iowa next week. "Gillibrand is also courting on-the-ground staff in Iowa ahead of her trip to the first caucus state." This activity, at a minimum, constitutes "testing the waters" under federal law and must be paid for with candidate-permissible funds. Hiring campaign staff may, in fact, reflect a decision by Gillibrand to run for office, making her a "candidate" under federal law, requiring her to register a principal campaign committee with the Federal Election Committee and begin filing disclosure reports.
It's the latest sign of movement toward a 2020 campaign from the New York Democrat, who is also planning a trip to Iowa next weekend. The new hires are veteran Democratic operatives Dan McNally, Meredith Kelly and Emmy Bengtson, according to a person familiar with their hiring.
McNally will be Gillibrand's campaign director, while Kelly will serve as Gillibrand's communications director. Bengtson will be the deputy communications director, leading the digital operation.