FEC Denies Request for Grassroots Lobbying Exemption

September 2006

The Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted against a proposed rule that would have created a grassroots lobbying exception to the nation's "electioneering communications" rules. The vote was cast in the face of a long-filed petition for rulemaking by a bipartisan group and after considering a narrowly tailored rule proposed by Republican Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky. By a vote of three to three, the Commission failed to pass the interim rule and also failed to authorize the General Counsel to initiate a formal rulemaking on the topic of a grassroots lobbying exception.

In February 2006, a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, petitioned the FEC for a rulemaking with respect to the blackout period for electioneering communications. Under the McCain-Feingold statute of 2002, corporations and unions and persons using funds from corporations and unions may not air television or radio communications within 30 days of a primary election or within 60 days of a general election if the communication features or mentions a clearly identified federal candidate and the communication can be received by 50,000 or more persons in the candidate's congressional district or state. The bipartisan group requested a regulatory exemption for legitimate grassroots lobbying advertisements since Congress is in session for all or part of the 30- and 60-day blackout periods in election years.

Without such an exception, nonprofit corporations, labor unions and for-profit corporations will remain unable to reach those individuals who are the most likely to put political pressure on a member of Congress to take a certain action with respect to a pending bill or other aspect of the legislative process—even in the face of critical or devastating legislation affecting them and their members directly. The 60-day corporate and union blackout period for electioneering communications for the 2006 general election begins on September 8, 2006.

Read Time: 2 min
Jump to top of page

Necessary Cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Analytical Cookies

Analytical cookies help us improve our website by collecting and reporting information on its usage. We access and process information from these cookies at an aggregate level.