Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Republicans Are Working on a New Campaign Finance Loophole

Under current law, the party committees—the NRSC, NRCC, DSCC, and DCCC—aren't allowed to coordinate with candidates. They have to set up separate operations to advertise or to otherwise help specific candidates. The Republicans, especially, don't like this because they tend to get money from big donors and would like to essentially give it to candidates to get the lower advertising rates candidates get. Democrats tend to get money from small donors and much of it goes to candidates directly, so they already get the lower rates.

Effectively, what the Republicans want to do is drop the prohibition on coordination. This would de facto allow big donors to give large sums to individual candidates, so the donors can get the cheaper ad rates. Getting a handful of billionaires to fund campaigns is much easier for them than to convince millions of voters to give $20 or $50 each.

The national committees already have workarounds that allow some forms of coordination. What they do is fairly subtle. The candidate sets up a website that doesn't sound very political or even interesting, say,, or The top page discusses the subject of the URL, but 6 deep in a convoluted path is a special page that outlines things the candidate would like to publicize. Some committee member checks this daily and then makes suggestions to the group producing ads about what to focus on. See, no public lunches and no coordination. Easy. However, this does not solve the problem of funneling money over there to get the cheaper ad rate.

A case on this issue is now with U.S. District Judge Douglas Cole, a Donald Trump appointee, who is setting up the case on a glide path to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit is a conservative court with a supermajority of Republican appointees on it. From there it is certain to make it to the Supreme Court, which has shown time and time again that it has no interest at all in limiting money in politics. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in a similar case that the national committees could be prohibited from coordinating with candidates. The case was decided 5-4, with Justice David Souter writing the opinion on behalf of himself, Sandra Day O'Connor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens. In case you don't remember those names, it's probably because none of them are currently on the Court, and the last two aren't even alive. The current Court has shown little hesitation to toss previous opinions into the paper shredder when it wants to, and this looks like a golden opportunity to help the Republican Party going forward. (V)

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