RNC case against coordinated expenditure limits still on track

In December, the Republican National Party filed two lawsuits challenging certain parts of the current system of federal campaign finance limits. The Associated Press today offers an update the suit challenging limits on coordinated expenditures between parties and candidates:

Louisiana’s Republican Party and the Republican National Committee spent almost $42,000 apiece on a coordinated effort to defeat scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. William Jefferson last year, but they wanted to spend more.

Turns out they didn’t have to. The Republican candidate, Anh "Joseph" Cao – with his own campaign fund in addition to the help from the parties – pulled off the upset on Dec. 6.

But the state and national parties and Cao are pressing on with a lawsuit that they hope will bring an end to campaign finance restrictions in place since the post-Watergate reform atmosphere of the 1970s.

At issue in the Cao lawsuit are the limits federal election law has on what state and national parties can spend in coordinated efforts on behalf of a candidate – about $42,000 each in most congressional districts. Each party can spend more in individual efforts but Roger Villere, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, says that can result in expenditures on messages that are either duplicative or contradictory.

The Louisiana lawsuit is one of two high-profile lawsuits targeting campaign finance limits. The other, pending before a three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court in Washington, targets the 2002 ban on unlimited "soft money" contributions – that is, unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions or individuals.

…Among other things, the Cao lawsuit contends that the campaign finance restrictions limited efforts to bring attention to Jefferson’s legal woes and his specific votes that might prove unpopular among some in his district – including votes to ban offshore drilling….

The story provides an important look at one of the many significant cases moving forward in the courts that have the potential to upend current campaign finance regulations that trample the First Amendment, and is well worth reading the full story.

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