The Columbus Dispatch reports with little appreciation of the significance of what they’re reporting:
This prompted American Crossroads to issue an “Are you kidding?” reply. The organization’s law firm said that all photos and video of Portman used in the commercial came from “public domain sources,” such as the Internet and YouTube. “Absolutely no material used in the ad was obtained from the Portman campaign web site or in any other way from the Portman campaign.”
So let me get this straight. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads defense is because they got the materials from Rob Portman Senate campaign’s official YouTube channel, and not “directly” from the campaign’s website, that some how is a factually significant distinction that prevents what would otherwise be an act of illegal coordination under FEC rules?
I’m not a federal campaign finance expert, but I can’t believe that flies. A YouTube channel is essentially no different than a campaign’s website to me. The content on the channel is entirely controlled by the campaign, and it’s specifically put on YouTube for the purposes of distribution by third-parties… what the FEC’s regulations against coordination are specifically designed to prohibit.
Taking American Crossroads interpretation render’s the FEC rules against coordination into an illusory non-existent prohibition. I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly violate the FEC rules against coordination if the rules were interpreted so narrowly. It’s like if Rob Portman wrote on American Crossroads Facebook Wall: “Dear guys, here’s a polling memo that shows what a great third-party ad could attack Fisher on and help me…. LOL, Robster.” But hey, that’s not coordination because the memo was only uploaded on Portman’s campaign Facebook page… which is considered a “pubic domain” source.
Such an interpretation permits a campaign to surrender its intellectual property rights to its campaign materials in return for essentially free use by their supporters in paid campaign advertisements without, somehow, being considered an inkind contribution by that campaign or third-party advertiser.
Or is it just me?