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The stunning scope of the new FEC rules

Over at Advocacy Inc, consultant Roger Stone is drawing a pretty astonishing conclusion from the new FEC rules on internet advocacy and campaigns.

Since it has passed largely unnoticed, I wanted to make sure you were aware of a new FEC Internet regulation that became final last Friday. Its impact on campaigns is potentially breathtaking. The Commission has ruled that the majority of Internet activities do not qualify as campaign contributions.

According to the ruling, any political activities carried out on a web site or via e-mail is not a "public communication" that counts against campaign limits or even requires reporting. Additionally, coordination between websites and campaigns is specifically permitted, including linking to campaign web sites.

What this means is that a wealthy individual could purchase all of the e-mail addresses for registered voters in a congressional district, ask the campaign what message to send them, produce an internet video ad, and e-mail it along with a link to the campaign contribution page to all the registered Democrats in the District. Not only would this activity not count against any contribution limits or independent expenditure requirements; it would never even need to be reported. In the FEC's eyes, it does not exist. Similarly, a State Democratic Party could conduct such a program on behalf of its Federal-level candidates and not have it count against any of its Federal limits.

I'd suggest contacting an election lawyer to get this right, but it sounds pretty wide-ranging.

(But, please, don't go buying email addresses for all the registered voters in your district. First, it won't work. Second, it'll negatively impact your ability to send email even to those who do want it. Third, someone might kill you.)

Previously, we covered the final draft of the new FEC rules here, as well as the public comment period.