FEC changes rules on campaign ads

U.S. Capitol Building

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Campaign finance watchdogs may spend the holiday reading new rules issued yesterday by the Federal Election Commission. The FEC opened the way for unions and corporations to influence the presidential election with big-money ad campaigns. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: The rules clarify a recent Supreme Court decision that threw out parts of a campaign finance law that said ads paid for by unions or corporations couldn't specifically mention a candidate right before an election.

Now, the FEC says, these ads can cast candidates in a good light or criticize their rivals -- as long as the ad's overall message is about a public policy issue.

Campaign Legal Center attorney Paul Ryan says that's too vague, and could lead to nasty attack ads:

Paul Ryan: Ads that push the envelope in terms of, how much discussion of candidates and elections can we get away with in this ad?

But AFL-CIO attorney Laurence Gold says the unions aren't looking to attack anyone -- it's a matter of free speech.

Lawrence Gold: I don't think it is, endangers anybody for organizations to speak out on issues and make references to candidates.

These new ads could start popping up in Iowa as soon as next month.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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