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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vendors and Non-Coordination Coordination

At The Washington Post, T.W. Farnam explains that it is lawful for campaigns and party organizations to share vendors with outside spending groups, yet another form of non-coordination coordination.  The paper has identified at least 30 such vendors, including Targeted Victory, which does online ads for Romney, the Crossroads groups and others.
Targeted Victory uses Internet video ads to persuade people to oppose Obama and vote for Romney. It also uses a stockpile of data it has collected on Web users to reach them with ads for both Romney and Crossroads.
Separately, Targeted Victory keeps a record of those who have visited the Romney campaign Web site or the Crossroads site, and stores that information in the same location.
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the campaign’s vendors “understand the law and follow it.”
Targeted Victory’s chief executive, Michael Beach, said in an e-mailed statement that the company has separate teams of strategists for the two clients, crafting ad messages and finding potential voters online. Those teams work on opposite sides of a “firewall” described in FEC regulations, he said.
“Targeted Victory takes its compliance responsibilities seriously and continually reviews its operations to ensure compliance with the FEC rules,” Beach wrote.
He said the rules allow some employees to work for both Romney and Crossroads, including “personnel who merely forward the Internet ad buys to placement firms.”
FEC regulations specifically point to those working on “the selection or purchasing of advertising slots” as employees with the potential to share inside information that could be used for coordination..
 Storing data together and using the same employees to represent Romney and Crossroads is not coordination under the law. To break the rule, an interest group would have to use inside information on the candidate’s needs or wishes to shape its own ad campaign.