The Public Policy and Infrastructure Practice continues to monitor the changes in the campaign finance world since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Citizens United reverses decades of statutory and case law that prohibit corporations from using their general treasuries to fund independent political advertising supporting or opposing candidates for local, state or federal office, or what it is termed “express advocacy”. 558 U.S. 50 (2010). It also removes restrictions on independent advertising released within close proximity to either a primary or general election and which refer to a clearly identified candidate for federal office (known as “electioneering”). This decision has been the equivalent of an earthquake in the campaign finance world, however, it does not provide corporations and labor unions with unlimited leeway when it comes to funding political advertisements. The attached alert from the Public Policy and Infrastructure Practice discusses one limitation that remains in place, post-Citizens United, which affects “coordinated communications” i.e. those coordinated with a federal candidate, campaign, or political party. Contributions that are coordinated with a federal candidate, campaign or political party are considered a direct, in-kind contribution and remain illegal in the case of corporations or labor unions, even with the Court’s decision in Citizens United. 2 U.S.C. § 441b (a).
The Federal Election Commission has issued revised regulations as to what constitutes a “coordinated communication”. These rules will take effect on December 1, 2010. The alert discusses these rules and what steps can be taken to ensure that a communication is truly independent.
To view the entire alert click here.