See the blog post here revealing that the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) dismissed a coordination complaint against the Oregon Democratic Party (“ODP”). The complaint alleged that advertisements featuring then-Democratic senatorial nominee Jeff Merkley sponsored and paid for by the ODP with assistance from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (“DSCC”) were coordinated party expenditures in excess of the coordination spending and contribution limits. Party committees such as the ODP and DSCC are prohibited from making coordinated expenditures on behalf of a federal candidate in excess of the coordinated expenditure or contribution limits. The advertisements were aired outside of the 90 day coordination windows.
This decision offers a window into thinking of the Commissioners regarding the existing coordination rules. It also may offer a preview of the coming debate regarding the coordination notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) recently issued by the FEC. The coordination NPRM is limited to coordination issues between outside groups and federal candidates and party committees. It does not seek to change the rules applicable to coordination issues between party committees (e.g., party committee independent expenditure units) and their federal candidates. It appears the FEC stayed the party committee/federal candidate coordination NPRM because of the pending constitutional challenge to those rules in Cao v. FEC. The litigation documents related to the Cao case can be found here.