The Federal Election Commission (FEC) adopted new regulations that will make political attack ads more prevalent. We’ve all seen these ads and most of us abhor them. Rather than add to any political discourse, they are intended to sway voters with misleading statistics and outlandish claims. These ads will always be around, but with this new rule, corporations can now dump tons of cash to get them aired in the days before an election.
We were concerned the FEC would totally gut the regulations for "electioneering communications," but they didn’t. With the scraps they left intact, corporations still can’t fund ads before an election that say, "Candidate _____ should/shouldn’t be president." They have to refrain from mentioning a candidacy or an election and avoid talking about the qualifications, character, or fitness for office of any candidate. Further, disclosure rules are also maintained so that we will continue to know who funds attack ads. In other words, you can still expect to hear plenty of ads claiming, “Representative _____ wants the government to say what you are allowed to eat!”
While this rule is not as bad as we feared, it is still bad. It’s in line with the Supreme Court’s devastating decision in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life which we knew would open the flood gates for more attack ads. All voters can do now is brace themselves.