FEC regulates (lightly) sham issue ads
The Trail blog on washingtonpost.com reports: The Federal Election Commission has reopened the door for corporations and unions to pay for television commercials during the upcoming presidential and congressional campaigns, so long as the ads avoid expressly advocating for or against a candidate.
The new rules come in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that knocked out a key provision of the landmark 2002 legislation overhauling the nation's campaign finance laws. The law prohibited issue advertising, paid for with corporate or union money, that named a candidate -- 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election -- and was considered by its supporters to be one of the bright lines in the act governing the role special interest groups may play in an election.
The new rules are expected to revive the practice by unions and special interest groups of airing ads during a campaign that purport to be about a specific issue, but are in fact intended to sway voters for or away from a particular candidate.
Loyola Law Professor Rick Hasen, who has been closely following debate on the campaign rules, said the new FEC language will provide a safe haven for groups that want to use "sham issue ads" to promote their candidate. In his blog today, he offered these hypothetical examples of advertising messages that he said would now be permitted:
"Call Sen. Clinton and tell her to stop coddling illegal aliens and terrorists by supporting the NY drivers' license plan."
"Call Mitt Romney and tell him more of our soldiers shouldn't die in an unnecessary war in Iraq."
"Call Rudy Giuliani and tell him that his support for gay rights is ruining the moral fabric of this country." -- In Wake of Court Ruling, FEC Makes Financing Rule Change Official | The Trail | washingtonpost.com