A look at the law on campaigns and super PACs

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2012 6:16 PM
A look at the law on campaigns and super PACs

Campaigns and independent groups known as super PACS are legally prohibited from coordinating their activities. But the law has been somewhat vague, giving groups broad leeway to interpret the law and frustrating advocates for campaign finance reform who want stricter regulations.

According to the Federal Election Commission, coordination is defined as "in consultation, cooperation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate's authorized committee, or a political party."

Some campaign finance experts interpret the language broadly, suggesting there can be no communication at all between the campaigns and super PACs. Others say the law is less restrictive, suggesting campaigns and super PACs cannot share information about specific television ad purchases or locations but are otherwise free to discuss overall strategy.

In December, the FEC's six commissioners deadlocked along party lines over whether the super PAC American Crossroads could fully coordinate with federal campaigns. The request from Crossroads followed accusations of improper coordination between Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and his state party.

FEC commissioners are likely to revisit the coordination issue in the future.