A super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is saying that it can work with her campaign on an initiative concerning online comments — a departure from the rules usually governing such groups, the Daily Beast reported.
The group, Correct The Record, is allowed to do so through a Federal Election Commission (FEC) loophole regarding the issue.
“Super PACs aren’t supposed to coordinate with candidates. The whole reasoning behind Citizens United rests on [PACs] being independent, but Correct the Record claims it can coordinate,” Sunlight Foundation staff writer Libby Watson said. “It’s not totally clear what their reasoning is, but it seems to be that material posted on the internet for free—like, blogs—doesn’t count as an ‘independent expenditure.'”
As the Washington Post reported, that rationale stems from a 2006 commission ruling creating an “Internet exemption” regarding content posted for free online.
Michael E. Toner, who chaired the FEC at the time, said that the ruling “totally exempt individuals who engage in political activity on the Internet from the restrictions of the campaign finance laws. The exemption for individual Internet activity in the final rules is categorical and unqualified.”
The group, which was founded last May as an offshoot of the American Bridge super PAC, announced on Thursday that it was spending $1 million to fund what it calls “barrier breakers” — a task force focusing on countering anti-Clinton rhetoric online on Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Correct The Record said in a statement that it had already addressed more than 5,000 Twitter users who have “personally attacked” the former Secretary of State and current Democratic front-runner.
Correct The Record said the project was inspired by “lessons learned from online engagement with “Bernie Bros,” a derisive term for people backing Clinton’s opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders. One Reddit user who identified himself as a Sanders supporter said his inbox “turned to cancer on Tuesday” as a result of the group’s actions.
“Been a member of reddit for almost 4 years and never experienced anything like it,” they wrote. “In fact, in all my years on the internet I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Correct The Record’s parent group was created by Media Matters for America founder David Brock, and was criticized last year by the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center.
“What they are doing with Correct the Record is groundbreaking,” said an attorney for the center, Paul Ryan. “It is creating new ways to undermine campaign regulation.”