Law on outside ads about candidates is unclear, state elections board told
RALEIGH – The State Board of Elections declined Tuesday to take action against a group that Republicans said unlawfully ran ads promoting four Supreme Court candidates during the 2006 election.
Susan Nichols, a special deputy attorney general, told the board Tuesday that it was unclear whether Fairjudges.net coordinated its operations with the Democratic Party. She told board members that laws dealing with the ads also are unclear.
Fairjudges.net spent about $200,000 to air ads highlighting three Democratic candidates and one Republican candidate who was running against a Democrat unendorsed by the party.
The group received most of its money from Democrats, and its leader was a former executive director of the state Democratic Party. That led opposing Republicans to call the advertisers a front group for Democrats, and one asked for matching public funds to compensate for the advertising.
State law allows outside groups to operate freely as long as they don't expressly support or oppose candidates, or coordinate with candidates or parties. Nichols said lawmakers may want to clarify the definition of coordination, particularly whether someone can work for the party and work as a consultant at the same time. (more…)