FEC: Redistricting battles not subject to spending limits
By Dan Eggen
The Federal Election Commission said Friday that members of Congress may raise unlimited "soft money" to help wage legal battles over congressional redistricting.
Under the advisory opinion, the FEC concluded that litigation and other expenses related to redistricting disputes are not "in connection with" federal elections and therefore are not subject to a ban on unlimited "soft money" donations in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
The decision comes less than five months after the Supreme Court, ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, held that corporations can spend as much as they want for or against political candidates.
Paul S. Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, which favors limits on political spending, said of Friday's decision: "This advisory opinion ignores both the letter and the intent of the 'soft money' ban in McCain-Feingold. To declare that redistricting activities are not 'in connection with' elections ignores the realities of the process. The outcomes of elections for some congressional seats for the next decade will be determined by those who draw the lines during the redistricting process."
But Steve Hoersting, vice president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which favors lifting restrictions on political spending, applauded the finding: "The unanimous, bipartisan FEC opinion demonstrates that some political activities simply are not for the purposes of influencing elections. The FEC commissioners get this point, and we hope federal courts will understand this principle as they review the soft money restrictions of McCain-Feingold in light of Citizens United and other recent court opinions."
The FEC's advisory opinion is available here.
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