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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Twitter and Non-Coordination Coordination

CNN reports that the NRCC and outside groups did non-coordination coordination via Twitter.
The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.
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A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.
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At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.
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The Twitter operation underscores the uncertain state of campaign finance rules after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision upended limits on outside spending in politics. Regulations provided by the FEC in the wake of the court ruling leave much to interpretation about what constitutes "coordination," creating a Wild West environment that, according to campaign finance experts, gives outside groups ample opportunity to share information while arguing they stayed within the confines of the law.
"It may bend common sense, but not necessarily the law," said Daniel Tokaji, a professor of Constitutional Law at Ohio State University who co-authored a study this year examining the relationship between outside groups and campaigns. "A lot of things you and I would consider coordination are not coordination under the law. I don't think sharing polling data is going to be enough to establish that the campaign was materially involved in decisions about content, target audience or timing."
In response to this story Monday, FEC vice-chair Ann Ravel said the commission may address the use of social media to share campaign information, but conceded that the rules governing campaign finance are "murky."