Nonprofits' Political Ads May Bend Rules

Watchdogs question content backed by secret donors
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2010 10:13 AM CDT

Since the Supreme Court’s January ruling on campaign finance, nonprofit groups have been allowed to run ads openly attacking specific candidates, so long as less than 50% of all spending is dedicated to these political activities. But several organizations have lately pushed that limit, the New York Times reports, with some spending more than half the cash in their coffers on direct attacks, and others skirting the line with ads that could be considered political.

Worried by huge, secretive donations to races, Democrats and campaign finance groups are calling for investigations into the matter. But the situation is complicated by the question: What counts as political? Endorsing a candidate, sure. But what about discussing an issue without backing a specific politician? To keep it legal, groups must claim “every one of those issue ads” is “nonpolitical, which seems to be a Herculean task,” said a campaign finance lawyer.
(Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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