A request to relax limits on coordination between candidates and super PACs left the Federal Election Commission divided and, at times, confused at a hearing on Tuesday. Marc Elias, lawyer for House Majority PAC and Senate Majority PAC, laid out 12 questions asking the commission to decide when a candidate becomes a candidate under federal election laws, and whether candidates can coordinate with super PACs or nonprofits that plan to support them prior to publicly announcing their candidacy. The request laid out plans for House and Senate Democrats to establish single-candidate super PACs for prospective candidates to coordinate with prior to officially announcing their candidacy. This would dramatically expand the already overlapping worlds of campaigns and super PACs.
Elias’s questions to the FEC follow months of a presidential campaign in which some Republican contenders directly coordinated with their super PACs and other groups while saying publicly they hadn’t decided whether to run.
The central questions in Elias’ request asked whether prospective candidates could form super PACs, staff them, create advertising materials for them, raise money for them and share strategy.
FEC commissioners — three Democrats and three Republicans — deadlocked on the most controversial questions, leaving the permissibility of these actions up in the air.