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FEC considers rule change for campaign ads

Hillary Wicai Aug 29, 2006

BRIAN WATT: It’s just around the corner. Those weeks and weeks when your TV gets taken over by campaign commercials. Today the Federal Election Commission will look at easing restrictions on when interest groups can run ads. Marketplace’s Hillary Wicai reports.

HILLARY WICAI: The provision in question bans interest groups financed by deep corporate or union pockets from running broadcast ads right before an election.

The ban is in effect the month before a primary and two months before a general election if the ads identify a federal candidate or targets a candidate’s district.

The FEC plans to consider an exemption for interest groups. Bill Miller is with the US Chamber of Commerce, – one of a wide array of groups pushing for the exemption.

BILL MILLER:“I don’t believe that the legislative intent was to preclude legitimate grassroots organizations from discussing issues that are in front of the Congress during that period.”

But campaign finance watchdogs like Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 say issue ads are often meant to influence congressional and presidential races.

FRED WERTHEIMER:“All of the sudden you would have unlimited money being spent on campaigns when everyone else is subject to limits.”

If approved the exemption would expire next fall.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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