FEC Lets Political Ads Flow Freely


Nonprofit groups can continue pouring tens of millions of dollars into political advertising, at least through this fall's presidential election. That's after federal campaign regulators Thursday decided not to act on complaints about the practice for at least three months.

Four of the six FEC members voted for the delay. The postponement means that any possible restrictions imposed three months from now will not likely go into effect until after the November ballot.

Critics claim nonprofits are exploiting a loophole in the 2002 campaign finance reform law to skirt a ban on unlimited "soft" contributions to candidates. For instance, financier George Soros has donated millions to liberal-leaning groups America Coming Together and MoveOn.org, to pay for ads attacking President Bush. In all, liberal groups have spent $35 million on anti-Bush ads.

The Republican Party asked the FEC to outlaw the practice. While their request was pending, Republican-leaning groups have largely shunned using the loophole themselves. Now that the FEC appears to have given the green light for this election, GOP allies are expected to ramp up efforts to counter the liberal groups.