NPR logo Partisan Divide May Keep FEC From Heeding Judge's Order On Ad Loophole

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Partisan Divide May Keep FEC From Heeding Judge's Order On Ad Loophole

A federal judge in a ruling late Friday told the Federal Election Commission to close a loophole that allows anonymous funding of political ads but it's not clear what the FEC will do.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the FEC ignored a provision in the McCain-Feingold law that requires advocacy groups to disclose donors of the money used for campaign-season ads.

The FEC interpreted that to mean that no disclosure was necessary unless the donor earmarked the money for specific ads.

So, in the 2010 elections, $135 million dollars for such ads went undisclosed.

The FEC is in a bind. It can't appeal the decision or take steps to comply with it unless four of the six commissioners agree. But the six member commission has a partisan split right down the middle. Controversial votes often end in a 3-to-3 deadlock.

The judge's ruling does NOT apply to superPACs which already have donor disclosure.