ANOTHER HOLE IN MCCAIN-FEINGOLD

Markos Zúniga has an interesting idea:

I have decided to proceed with the House Project — helping the activist community produce and distribute Internet multimedia advertisements targeting House races.
The site, which still needs a name (the best suggestions were already taken. I need more!), will allow activists to upload information about Republican incumbents, ad scripts, video and still images of those incumbents, and the finished product (Flash or video).

The site will also solicit funds to run those ads in the targeted districts. All such advertising will be online. Broadcast ads fall under Campaign Finance Reform laws, and would require the site to become a 527 or PAC, limit the times the ads would run and place onerous FEC reporting requirements on me.

I can barely manage reporting my monthly expenses to my accountant, I’ll end up in jail in no time if I have to turn myself into a PAC. And given that the Internet has an intentional loophole for the Internet, and given that it’s the medium in which I feel most comfortable, that’s the area in which this site will play. If other PACs or 527s want to take the best ads and run them on the air, that’ll be their perogative.

Online advertising will allow me to geotarget the ads in targeted congressional districts (that’s why every site registration asks for your zip code), making sure thousands of people in the targeted districts see the ads when they log in online. And the cost is far better than radio or television.

***

The goal is to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House. Conservative Dems will vote for her the same as Kucinich Dems. And I won’t coordinate this with any Democratic Party establishment (DCCC, DNC, or even the campaigns themselves). Why? It ensures that we don’t run afoul of any CFR laws against “coordinating” soft money — heck, completely unregulated — expenditures with campaigns. Like I said, I don’t plan on getting a lawyer to untangled the complicated CFR laws. We’ve got a nice little Internet loophole, and as a private citizen not associated in any way with any of these races, I plan on exploiting it best I can.

Personally, I have no problem with this. I’m not a big fan of negative advertising but it’s been a part of politics since, well, the first time a candidate had opposition. But for some reason I had the impression that Democrats were opposed to loopholes, negative advertising, and most especially the corrupting influence of money on the political system.

As an aside, from a purely strategic standpoint, I agree with the “p.s.” from John Corzine: the Democrats would be better focusing their efforts on the Senate. Given the recent redistricting in Texas and the fact that virtually every seat in the House has been gerrymandered to be “safe” for one political party, it’s going to be mighty hard to swing the House.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I don’t see the wisdom of concentrating on the Senate. Two problems:

    1) You turn your back on the big deadly venomous snake that wants to kill you (House), because it will be harder to kill than a less immediately threat (Senate). That’s a recipe for dead. Dem Senators are still able to hold the line in some cases. Dems in the House are underwater and out of breath. Urgency, not facility, should dictate strategic focus. Concentrate on destruction of the Hard Right’s control of the GOP caucus.

    2) Senate races will be much harder for a small 527 to affect given the volume of cash that rains on those races. By going after Senatorial races you are diluting your impact. to nearly nothing.

  2. melvin toast says:

    Cost is better than radio or tv because no one responds to online ads. I can’t imagine online advertising having much of an effect this time around. The only video I ever sit through online are movie trailers, cspan news reels or the star wars kid.

    Power to him though. I think CFR is a load of crap. Dems are as heavily influenced by big money (Unions) as Reps (Corporations). Special interests will always be there. But it’s still one person one vote. And it’s up to the one person to be informed.