#McConnelling Ads May Break Federal Campaign Rules

March 18, 2014 11:35 am

Wordless political ads campaigns post that many say are likely meant to help super PACs could break federal law, according to campaign finance watchdogs.

That argument came up after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) campaign posted an ad of what appeared to be b-roll* of McConnell smiling and posing with voters in various shots. Observers speculated that the ad was really meant for pro-McConnell super PACs to use. It is illegal for those organizations to coordinate with the campaigns.

Paul S. Ryan, an attorney for the Campaign Legal Center told USA Today that a super PAC that spends money in order to distribute or reproduce campaign materials that go beyond just a short comment from the super PAC’s preferred candidate could actually be breaking campaign finance rules. Specifically, Ryan said, it could constitute an improper donation.

Jon Stewart lampooned the ad on The Daily Show and coined the term #McConnelling, spawning an internet meme that set any music to the awkward, b-roll footage. But McConnell isn’t the only one whose campaign has posted b-roll material that’s likely been used in campaign ads. Democrats have too, as Roll Call pointed out.

*Wikipedia defines b-roll as “the supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary.”

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