FEC to force disclosure for issue advertisers

The Federal Election Commission said Friday that it will force nonprofit groups that have run so-called issue ads to disclose some of their donors.   

The disclosure requirement applies only to issue ads—spots that do not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate—that are run 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

“Effective March 30, 2012, persons making disbursements for electioneering communications should report ‘the name and address of each donor who donated an amount aggregating $1,000 or more to the person making the disbursement, aggregating since the first day of the preceding calendar year,’ the commission said in a statement.

In a case brought by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a federal judge ruled earlier this spring that nonprofit groups funding issue ads must disclose their donors. That ruling is currently on appeal and the FEC left open the possibility of revisiting the issue in its statement Friday.  

“Until such time as the Van Hollen case is resolved on appeal or the Commission adopts a new regulation or explanation of its rules, the Commission intends to comply with the district court and D.C. Circuit’s interpretation,” the FEC said.

The ruling does not apply to independent expenditure ads, in which outside groups do advocate for the election or defeat of a specific candidate. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already announced its intention to shift away from issue ads ahead of the fall to avoid the disclosure requirement.

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