New Rick Perry Super PAC Ad May Amount to an Illegally Large Campaign Donation

The ad features the official Perry logo, and that could violate federal election rules.

A screenshot from the latest ad from the pro-Rick Perry super PAC
National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
June 25, 2015, 10:39 a.m.

A new ad from the super PAC supporting Rick Perry may amount to an illegally sized campaign contribution because it prominently features official signs and paraphernalia from the Perry campaign. 

The 30-second spot, which began airing in Iowa earlier this week, was paid for by the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, which is led by former Perry chiefs of staff Ray Sullivan and Mike Toomey. 

The ad features footage from Perry’s announcement speech, including a podium decorated with an official Perry campaign logo, a plane emblazoned with the campaign’s insignia, and images of the crowd waving official Perry presidential signs.

Federal election law states that broadcasting materials produced by a campaign amounts to a campaign contribution. If the ad, which is airing as part of a $145,350 buy that the super PAC recently reported, is ruled to be such a contribution by election authorities, then it would be above the legal limits of what Perry can receive.

Jordan Russell, a spokesman for the Opportunity and Freedom PAC, said the ad was within the legal limits. “We don’t feel like that applies to a logo in the back of a television shot,” Russell said of the elections code.

The super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, however, did not take any such risks. Earlier this week, the Right to Rise super PAC unveiled a new ad pro-Bush and, as National Journal reported, blurred the images of official “Jeb!” signs in the background to comply with the law. Both the pro-Perry and pro-Bush ads center on the candidate’s own announcement speeches.

The relevant portion of the law reads: “The financing of the dissemination, distribution, or republication, in whole or in part, of any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign materials” amounts to a contribution. 

Russell noted that the footage in the pro-Perry ad was shot by the super PAC itself at the event. “We feel like the ad is fully in compliance with all the relevant regulations,” Russell said.  The ad is the third in a series of spots the super PAC has aired in Iowa as part of $567,000 in spending since Perry entered the race. 

Any complaints about the Perry super PAC’s ad would go before the Federal Election Commission, an agency whose chairwoman said was “worse than dysfunctional” earlier this year. The commission has increasingly deadlocked, along party lines, in 3-3 ties in recent years.

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