FEC Urged to Reject Super PAC American Crossroads’ Request for Permission to Coordinate Ads with Candidates


The Campaign Legal Center, together with Democracy 21, filed comments today with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), urging the Commission to reject a request from the Super PAC American Crossroads for permission to fully coordinate campaign ads with candidates despite clear laws prohibiting Super PACs from making expenditures coordinated with candidates.

As the comments filed by the Legal Center and Democracy 21 point out, the American Crossroads request (AOR 2011-23) is absurd in light of the laws passed by Congress and upheld by the courts:

“In short, a political committee seeks the Commission’s permission to ‘fully coordinate[]’ ads with candidates, featuring those candidates, echoing the candidates’ campaign slogans, in ads that are ‘thematically similar’ to the candidates’ own campaign ads, for the purpose of improving voters’ ‘perceptions’ of those candidates in the 2012 election—without treating its payments for such ads as coordinated expenditures under federal law.  Just to recite this request is to demonstrate the absurdity of it.”

“American Crossroads’ request is absurd and flies in the face of decades of Supreme Court decisions upholding laws to prevent political corruption,” said Campaign Legal Center FEC Program Director Paul S. Ryan.  “The Supreme Court has long recognized the importance of contribution limits to preventing corruption, and that expenditures coordinated with candidates must be treated as contributions in order to prevent easy circumvention of the limits.  Most recently, inCitizens United, the Court once again explained that ‘prearrangement and coordination’ presents the ‘danger that expenditures will be given as a quid pro quo for improper commitments from the candidate.’”

Yet the Super PAC American Crossroads urges the FEC to ignore federal statutes and court decisions and, instead, to pretend that its ads intended to improve voters’ perceptions of candidates in the 2012 election, paid for with unlimited contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals, and fully coordinated with the candidates featured in the ads, nevertheless are not “coordinated communications” under the law.

The FEC has been sued twice since passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, by the law’s principal sponsors in the House of Representatives, for the Commission’s failure to enact adequate coordination rules.  In both cases, the courts have struck down the FEC’s rules and ordered the Commission to rewrite them. 

“A green light from the FEC on this request would be an admission by the agency that its own rule defining ‘coordinated communication’ is invalid and that the Commission had failed yet again to promulgate effective rules in compliance with court orders,” said Ryan.

The Campaign Legal Center took the lead in preparing these comments.

To read the comments, click here.