Experts Question Independent Spending Effort By Brother Of GOP House Candidate

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April 14, 2010 10:54 am
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A Republican candidate for the House in Tennessee is the beneficiary of a novel campaign fundraising setup: his own brother is running an independent expenditure effort — not subject to giving limits — that is raising the eyebrows of some campaign finance experts, Roll Call reports.

Robert Kirkland, the brother of Ron Kirkland, who is running in the GOP primary for an open House seat in western Tennessee, has so far spent $135,000 on Ron’s candidacy effort.That means Robert Kirkland can run ads promoting his brother’s candidacy in an operation not subject to most campaign finance regulations, as long as he does not coordinate with the campaign. But some experts question whether such a setup can be truly independent — especially because of connections like the fact that Robert Kirkland’s attorney on the independent expenditure effort previously volunteered for Ron Kirkland’s campaign.

The paper reports:

In general, money spent for coordinated communications are limited and treated like in-kind contributions while independent expenditures are unlimited. Relatives are subject to the same $2,400 contribution limits as anyone else. With Robert Kirkland already well above that amount, some experts think it may be a matter of time before a complaint is filed or the Federal Election Commission decides to take a closer look at the situation in West Tennessee to be certain no coordination is taking place.

Late Update: An attorney in Humboldt, TN, has now filed an FEC complaint calling Kirkland’s ads “clearly coordinated communications,” WHNT reports.

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