Campaign Ad or Issue Ad? No One Knows for Sure Anymore

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, submitted this post as a guest blog for The Hill.

On Tuesday, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was forced to grapple with an issue that had previously been resolved: what is a campaign ad?

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) had clearly defined what constitutes a campaign ad, subject to the contribution limits and disclosure requirements of federal campaign finance law, versus an issue ad, which generally is not. A campaign ad is any advertisement that either uses express advocacy (“vote for,

Until Monday night, the FEC appeared poised to far exceed the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling, defining any ad that even mentions a political issue as an issue ad. Given that nearly all campaign ads also discuss issues, the proposal would have gutted restrictions altogether on using corporate and union “soft money

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