Political action committees gained a lot of power as a result of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, but are still prohibited from overtly coordinating their advertising with that of a political candidate. A request for clarification on coordination from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC – the request that was famously mocked by Stephen Colbert – elicited a 3-3 split vote from the FEC, which effectively means that the rules stay the same and coordination is still not allowed.
American Crossroads admitted that a dictionary reading of the word coordinate would preclude working with actual campaign organizations; but it wanted to be able to come up with a statutory way to work with a campaign that would get around this obvious impediment.
AC wants to run ads that “improve the image” of a candidate in the public mind. In the end, the request failed to get approval.
Political blog TMPMuckraker posted comments from Campaign Legal Center FEC Program Director Paul S. Ryan about the effect of the deadlock. He said far from giving AC the green light to coordinate, it left such coordination up to scrutiny and possible legal repercussions. He went on to call the AC effort “absurd,” and applauded the Democratic block the PAC’s efforts to circumvent the rules.
RBR-TVBR observation: We’ll point this out one more time. Because of the strongly political nature of the FEC’s work, it is the one and only federal agency we’re aware of that has a board of commissioners evenly divided between the parties. And because of that, almost every issue of consequence that comes before it results in a tie. Perhaps we should just call it the FGC – the Federal Gridlock Commission.