CCP Files Brief Supporting FEC’s Regulations on Coordinated Communications

CENTER for COMPETITIVE POLITICS

PRESS RELEASE: January 22, 2007

Media Contact: Bradley A. Smith (614) 236-6317
 Stephen M. Hoersting (703) 682-9359

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 "CCP Files Brief Supporting FEC’s Regulations on Coordinated Communications"

Arlington, Va. – Today the Center for Competitive Politics ("CCP") filed an amicus brief in support of the Federal Election Commission’s rules on coordinated communications in the case of Shays v. Federal Election Commission, No. 06-CV-1257 (D.D.C.). 

"The plaintiffs claim that the FEC’s inclusion of a content standard in its coordination regulations is a new and novel creation, which gives the mistaken impression that the regulations represent an abrupt departure from previous Commission standards.  Nothing could be further from the truth," said Sean P. Trende, of Hunton & Williams LLP, counsel to CCP.  "Pre-BCRA, the Commission consistently, if not formally, applied an express advocacy content standard when determining whether allegedly coordinated expenditures qualified as contributions, Trende continued.  "Congress knew this when passing BCRA, and added a content standard (electioneering communication) to the prohibitions on coordination, rather than removing standards on content altogether," added George P. Sibley, III, co-counsel on this matter.

"The brief points up the Commission’s historic use of, and need for, content standards in enforcing prohibitions against coordinated communications; a standard that ties the content of the speech to a pending election before subjecting the speakers to a lengthy investigation into whether they collaborated with a candidate.  Otherwise, speech unrelated to elections could be investigated on the mere charge that a candidate had input into its airing," said Bradley A. Smith, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission and Chairman of CCP.

"We’re hopeful the District Court will uphold the Commission’s effort to draw a bright-line defining which kinds of statements can be investigated for coordinated activity.  Without content standards, speakers will be left with a factual defense that only can be vindicated after a lengthy investigation, leaving many to conclude that they can only avoid that investigation by not speaking at all," said Smith,  "And we felt it particularly important to rebut the plaintiffs’ erroneous assertion that the FEC’s use of a content standard was an unprecedented departure from past practice."

Messrs. Trende and Sibley are associates in the Richmond office of Hunton & Williams LLP, and generously donated their services pro bono.

The Center for Competitive Politics is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  CCP’s mission, through legal briefs, studies, historical and constitutional analyses, and media communication, is to educate the public on the actual effects of money in politics, and the results of a more free and competitive electoral process.

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