FEC Upholds Ad Limits; Ruling Affects Interest Groups before Election

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 31, 2006 | Go to article overview

FEC Upholds Ad Limits; Ruling Affects Interest Groups before Election


Byline: Eric Pfeiffer, WASHINGTON TIMES

The Federal Election Commission on Tuesday upheld a ruling that prohibits labor unions, corporations and advocacy groups from running advertisements that identify issues or candidates by name in the weeks leading up to an election.

The 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act bans such ads but allows the FEC to allow exemptions. In a 3-3 ruling along party lines, the FEC commissioners voted to uphold enforcement of the rules, which prevent interest groups from airing campaign ads 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary election.

"My biggest reaction is disappointment. The FEC evaded its duty here," said Republican FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky. "The right to petition the government is a fundamental right."

"I'm quite proud of the Democrats, and I can't say that very often," said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen, a group that supports the FEC's decision. "I'm pretty sure this is going to settle the issue."

Mr. Holman added that interest groups can still run ads before an election, but that they must be paid for under current individual donor limits and that the groups must publicly disclose donor identities.

Other supporters of the FEC ruling said Mr. Spakovsky's proposal would have created too many loopholes allowing political interest groups to circumvent the campaign-finance law's intent.

"The von Spakovsky proposal itself would have opened a major campaign-finance loophole in BCRA and allowed corporations and labor unions to use their organizational funds to finance campaign ads in the guise of 'issue ads,'" said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer. …

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