FEC gets ready to translate court ruling


The Supreme Court ruled last month that corporations and unions have wide discretion in the funding and airing of issue-oriented advertising. "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor," wrote Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, slapping down a major provision of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. But it will fall to the Federal Election Commission to translate the Court's action into a new set of rules of the road.

"The FEC intends to make clear how we are interpreting this exemption before mid-December, when the electioneering communication timeframes for the 2008 campaign will begin." said FEC Chairman Robert Lenhard.  "We believe it is critical to have a clear rule in place in time for the Presidential primaries and caucuses in early 2008."

It will be the topic of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which the FEC hopes to get under way in August. If you plan to comment in this, the FEC is essentially giving notice to start putting your thoughts in order. An August NPRM would tie into a September due date for public remarks.

RBR observation: Looking at the practical aspects of this, we'd say it's somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the plus side, such organizations will have no claim whatsoever to lowest unit rate and other such perks enjoyed by actual candidates. It probably translates into more money. But does it? It could simply mean more pressure on inventory and potentially strained relationships with regular year-round customers. If you have any ideas you think the FEC should consider, your chance is coming up soon.