According to Real Clear Politics, the Ohio Democratic Party is going to file a complaint with the FEC alleging that American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s organization which is presently running pro-Rob Portman’s ads right now violated FEC regulations regarding illegal coordination with campaigns in making that ad.
The 527 committee’s ad showcases three photographs that originated from Portman’s campaign Web site and jobs plan document, and FEC rules state that using such photos constitutes an in-kind contribution that exceeds the legal limits.
An exception to the regulation allows outside groups to incorporate a candidate’s campaign material “that advocates the defeat of the candidate or party that prepared the material.” In other words, if American Crossroads had borrowed images from Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher’s campaign Web site for the purpose of airing an ad to bash him, the ad would have been compliant. But because the committee is operating in support of Portman in this case, it is in violation of those rules.
Nevertheless, there is a discrepancy about one subsection of the regulation, which allows for a group to republish a candidate’s materials if: “The campaign material used consists of a brief quote of materials that demonstrate a candidate’s position as part of a person’s expression of its own views.”
To that end, the ad does not clarify any piece of Portman’s jobs plan – except to inform the ad’s viewers that he has one – and there is no quote included at all. In the ad, an announcer states that Portman is “finding solutions in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton – ideas from Ohioans in all 88 counties” and goes on to note, “the talkers gave us stimulus and debt, but Portman hears Ohio families, strengthens job creation.” Other text in the ad simply states, “connecting you to the future,” which appears to be culled from campaign signage.
Even a prominent GOP election lawyer contacted for this story explained that republication of campaign materials is generally recognized as coordination and is a problem. “Asserting a ‘quote exception’ defense is weak,” the attorney said, because “the FEC talks about quotes in the context of endorsements not relevant to using photos or logos.”
Rob Portman and Karl Rove tied at the hip together? Why, how on earth can that be?