The Federal Election Commission published two new final rules on August 27, and also issued two advisory opinions.
First is a final rule pertaining to coordination of political communications by outside groups with campaigns. The rule now:
add[s] a new standard to the content prong of the coordination rules to cover public communications that are the functional equivalent of express advocacy. The final rules do not alter the conduct prong of the coordination rules, but provide further justification for retaining the 120-day time period in the common vendor and former employee conduct standards. The final rules adopt a new safe harbor for certain commercial and business communications.
Second is a change to several federal election activity definitions:
The final rules revise the definitions of “voter registration activity” and “get-out-the-vote activity” (GOTV) to cover activities that urge, encourage or assist potential voters to register to vote, regardless of whether the message is delivered individually or to a group of people via mass communication. Brief, incidental exhortations to register to vote are exempt from the new definitions. The final rules clarify that certain voter identification and GOTV activities conducted solely in connection with a non-Federal election are not subject to the Commission’s Federal election activity regulations and provide that certain de minimis activities are not subject to the Federal election activity funding restrictions.
The rules do not take effect until December 2010.
View the FEC’s press release here: FEC Adopts Final Rules on Coordinated Communications and Federal Election Activity, Approves Two Advisory Opinions. (Link included on page to final rules and two published advisory opinions).
Washington Post reports on reactions by campaign finance reformers, “FEC Answers a Nagging Question – Sort Of”.
The FEC’s newsletter, the RECORD, is now online as well.