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FEC commissioner proposes rule easing restrictions on political ads

[JURIST] The Federal Election Commission [official website] on Thursday released a proposed rule [FEC materials] that would exempt certain "grassroots lobbying" communications from advertising restrictions imposed by the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [FEC materials]. BCRA prohibits interest groups funded by corporations or unions from airing television or radio advertisements two months before general elections or one month before primaries if the communications mentions a candidate in a federal election by name or is targeted toward a candidate's district. FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky proposed the measure [statement, PDF] that would exempt grassroots lobbying communications during the time period if the ad is directed at an incumbent in his capacity as officeholder, not as a candidate; relates to a public policy issue being considered by Congress or the Executive branch; and urges the candidate to take a position or the public to contact the candidate on the issue.

Among the groups pushing for the changes are the AFL-CIO [advocacy website], the Alliance for Justice [advocacy website], the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the National Education Association [advocacy website] and others. The FEC will consider the proposed rule on August 29 and a vote on the matter could occur the same day. Campaign finance watchdog Democracy 21 [advocacy website] has already said they will consider challenging the rule in court should it be approved by the FEC. AP has more.

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