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Watchdog: The FEC Should Investigate Brazen Defiance of Coordination Rules

November 17, 2014 | Adam Smith

Washington, D.C.—Republican groups’ flouting of coordination rules through the use of anonymous Twitter accounts should spur the Federal Election Commission to take action on the variety of ways campaigns and groups have brazenly disobeyed these rules that are meant to prevent independent groups from working with campaigns.

CNN reported this morning that “Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.”

“The rules to keep outside groups separate from candidate campaigns are more loophole than law,” said David Donnelly, president of Every Voice. “Operatives on both sides of the aisle face no serious consequences for violating the spirit or the intent of the law. We urge the FEC to do its job by issuing clear and incontrovertible guidance, investigate wrong-doing, and issue serious fines against those who violate our campaign finance laws.”

This story is one of many examples in the 2014 election of campaigns stretching these rules:

  • The Washington Post reported in early November “[t]he 2014 midterm elections mark a new level of collaboration between candidates and independent groups.”
  • The White House pushed back against Sen. Harry Reid’s efforts to get President Obama to ask donors for large donations for the Senate Majority PAC, an outside group that spent millions to support Senate Democrats, worried it would violate these rules.
  • In August, Sen. Mitch McConnell held an event at the headquarters of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a group that weeks later spent tens of millions on outside efforts to secure a Republican majority in the Senate.

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