Bad news on the political advertising front from Thursday’s News York Times:
Democratic Senator’s Ads May Break New Ground
WASHINGTON — A new series of political advertisements on behalf of an embattled Nebraska senator could open the door to a flood of similar ads financed by outside groups and even businesses working directly with political candidates — a sharp departure from past practice.
The ads are innocuous enough on their face: Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat up for re-election next year, is featured on television and radio commercials discussing Social Security, the national debt, war veterans and other hot-button issues. What is remarkable, campaign finance lawyers and political operatives say, is that the ads were produced and paid for by Democratic Party officials in Nebraska and Washington — with the senator’s close involvement as their star.
The ad in question:
That’s technically a violation of the Federal Election Commission rules “restrict[ing] politicians from ‘coordinating’ their advertisements with outside groups.” But the FEC hasn’t taken any action to squelch the Nelson/Nebraska Democratic Party’s $600,000 (so far) ad campaign.
Republican groups, interestingly, aren’t asking the FEC to stop Nelson; they’re asking if they can join him:
Indeed, American Crossroads — the powerful and well-financed Republican group formed with the help of the former White House aide Karl Rove — filed a request on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission asking for a formal ruling on whether it could “adopt the tactics” of Mr. Nelson in coordinating footage of politicians up for re-election.
That decision could make the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling look like tinkering around the edges.
Not good, splendid readers. Not good at all.