Comments of CCP Vice President Steve Hoersting on Coordinated Communications Rulemaking

The Center for Competitive Politics submitted comments Jan. 19 regarding the FEC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Coordinated Communications, 74 FR 53893 (Oct. 21, 2009). Comments were submitted Jan. 19, 2010. For more information on the FEC’s NPRM in this area, see the FEC’s website.

CCP’s comments focus the need for the FEC to craft regulations that protect speech and association rights after the Shays III ruling.

“Before the FEC adopted a content standard in its coordination investigations, the specter of a coordination investigation served as a kind of Hobson’s choice for publicly spirited individuals and politically interested grassroots lobbying organizations. Organizations had to decide whether to surrender the right to interface with lawmakers to preserve one’s right to engage public advocacy, or vice versa. If conduct were the sole criteria for determining whether a public communication was a “coordinated expenditure,” certain organizations that run advertising would always have enough contact with officeholders to at least trigger a lengthy investigation. Major citizens groups, such as the Sierra Club, regularly petition public officials but also speak to fellow citizens through public advertising on a regular basis…” Hoersting writes on behalf of CCP.

“Hence, some type of content standard is critical for the FEC, not only to protect the legitimate speech rights of citizens, but also to manage its own enforcement load and protect itself from endless, politically motivated complaints.”