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For Immediate Release                                                                               Contact: Bob Biersack
August 23, 2007                                                                                                      George Smaragdis
                                                                                                                              Michelle Ryan

FEC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Electioneering Communications

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Election Commission (FEC/Commission) today approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC (WRTL). The Court ruled that the specific ads in question were not the “functional equivalent of express advocacy” because they were “susceptible of a reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a clearly identified Federal candidate.” Therefore, the Court determined, the ads in question were entitled to an exemption from the restriction on the use of corporate or union funds for electioneering communications.

The FEC seeks comment from the public on two alternative proposals to implement the Court’s decision.  Under Alternative 1, corporations and unions would be permitted to use their general treasury funds to pay for electioneering communications that qualify for the exemption the Supreme Court described, but would be required to disclose them to the FEC.  Under Alternative 2, a communication qualifying for the exemption in WRTL would be exempt from the funding restrictions, and also would not be subject to the reporting requirements.

The NPRM also seeks comment on a number of questions related to the specific description of the exemption (i.e., what types of ads should be eligible) and how these rules might impact other aspects of campaign finance regulation.

The NPRM will be published in the Federal Register next week, and a public comment period will follow.  The deadline for public comment will be October 1, 2007.  The FEC will hold a hearing on October 17, 2007 for those wishing to testify before the Commission.  Directions for submitting written comments and requests to testify are provided in the notice. The Commission plans to vote on a final rule by the end of November 2007.  The full text of the Notice can be found here.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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