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Campaign Reforms - Federal Regulation of Political Party Coordinated Expenditures

In June 2001, the Supreme Court, issued an important ruling upholding federal limits on the amount of money that political parties spend in coordination with federal candidates. FEC v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee, 121 S. Ct. 2351 (2001). A "coordinated" expenditure occurs, for example, when a political party pays for a campaign advertisement created by a candidate. Limits on such coordinated expenditures are necessary to prevent evasion of the limits on direct contributions to candidates. Nevertheless, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit had struck down the limits as a violation of the First Amendment rights of political parties. NVRI, with the assistance of the Washington, D.C. office of Hale & Dorr, LLP, filed an amicus brief urging reversal of the 10th Circuit's decision in December 2000.

NVRI argued that coordinated expenditures are functionally identical to direct contributions. If a political party can just pick up the tab for an unlimited amount of candidate expenses, then the limit on contributions to candidates become meaningless. More and more large contributions from wealthy interests are channeled through political parties. The Supreme Court's decision prevents unlimited coordinated expenditures that would further the privileged political access of a small elite and further disenfranchise the vast majority of U.S. citizens.

NVRI's amicus briefs in F.E.C. v. Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee.
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