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Everyone Is Violating FEC Rules!

It’s less than two weeks until election day, which means the time for levying complaints with the Federal Election Commission against political opponents is well underway.

First off, Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller is [accusing](http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/10/20/joe-miller-files-fec-complaint/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wsj/washwire/feed+(WSJ.com:+Washington+Wire)) Alaskans Standing Together, a group that’s poured nearly $600,000 into attacking him and supporting his opponent, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), of violating FEC rules against federal government contractors making contributions to influence federal elections. The group is indeed supported by a number of Alaska Native corporations, whose subsidiaries have previously secured business through federal contracts, but the charge [seems unlikely to stick](http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2010/10/20/joe-miller-files-fec-complaint/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wsj/washwire/feed+(WSJ.com:+Washington+Wire)) because of the technicalities of the law that distinguish between holding companies and their subsidiaries:

Mr. Anderson, who also heads the ANCSA Regional Association, a league of the corporations, and is CEO of Koniag, said some subsidiaries of the corporations, not the parent companies themselves, do work for the government. He added that federal contracting is part of a “very diverse” set of businesses that the corporations engage in.

The FEC has ruled in the past that “a holding company is considered a distinct legal entity in its own right, apart from its subsidiaries,” so a parent company could make a contribution even when FEC rules prevent its subsidiary from doing so.

Then there’s the DCCC, which couldn’t resist the irony potential of accusing Sen. John McCain of violating none other than the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) when he cut ads supporting two Arizona GOP House candidates, Ruth McClung and Jesse Kelly. The ads were paid for by the Friends of John McCain campaign committee, and the DCCC is claiming they amount to an in-kind contribution that exceeds the $4,800 limit under BCRA. The McCain campaign counters that the ads were reported as “independent expenditures” and therefore not subject to the limits imposed by the act.

Basically, this case comes down to the question of whether the communications produced by the McCain camp were “coordinated” in any way with the candidates they were intended to support. If there’s proof of coordination, then the $92,000 the committee spent to produce and air each ad would be considered contributions in excess of BCRA limits. If they’re considered independent, then the limits don’t apply.

Luckily for the McCain camp, coordination allegations are levied all the time during election election cycles and have fallen on increasingly deaf ears over at the FEC. Unless there’s material evidence that the campaigns sat down and hashed out a specific plan for the ads, this charge will likely be thrown out as well.

And there are loads more accusations going on — ’tis the season!

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