ProPublica: Super PACs and Trump’s Wife: How a Photo Dispute Highlights Weakness in Campaign Finance Rules
Paul S. Ryan, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit that advocates for stronger campaign finance regulation, could only remember one instance when the FEC did take action on this front. Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, ran an ad almost identical to one run by the Romney campaign itself. One of the sole differences was the closing credit that disclosed who paid for it.
“The penalty was $50,000 and that came about four years later,” Ryan said. “The fine was ridiculously small and it came too late.”
While Ryan contends that it would be a clear violation if a candidate purchased a photo and provided it to a PAC as Trump alleges, he doubts that the FEC’s Republicans, who advocate against the government encroaching on political speech, would see it that way. “They seem to bend over backwards to find no violations of law,” Ryan said.
For one thing, Ryan said, the FEC could decide that even if the super PAC got the photo from the campaign, it operated within the law because it covered some portion of the original photo by adding embedded text and therefore showing less of the original content.
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