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FEC deadlocks on grassroots lobby exemption from political advertising rules

[JURIST] The Federal Election Commission (FEC) [official website] on Tuesday failed to adopt a proposed rule [FEC materials] to exempt interest groups from "electioneering communications," tying 3-3 instead. The measure, proposed earlier this month [JURIST report] by FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky, would have allowed certain grassroots lobbying groups to air television and radio advertisements that related to public policy issues under consideration by Congress or the President weeks before a campaign. Under the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) [FEC materials], non-profits, corporations and labor unions are prohibited from running such ads 30 days before a federal primary and 60 days before a general election.

The FEC voted 3-3 along party lines, with Republicans supporting the proposal and Democrats opposing it. Supporters, however, ranged from the ACLU [official website] and the AFL-CIO [official website] to the Chamber of Commerce [official website]. Advocates of the proposal have said that a better balance is necessary between First Amendment guarantees and restrictions on campaign advertising. AP has more.

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