Coordinating Publicly to Get Around Campaign Finance Laws–2022 cycle

Shane Goldmacher at N.Y. Times reports on the “Little Red Boxes” appearing on many Democratic primary candidates’ websites to direct their Super PACs’ messaging strategies. The basic principle is not new, but the details are interesting. Republicans this cycle apparently are focused on different end-runs around these campaign finance restrictions.

“Democratic candidates nationwide are using . . . red boxes to pioneer new frontiers in soliciting and directing money from friendly super PACs[,] . . .

[A] New York Times survey of candidate websites found at least 19 Democrats deploying some version of a red box in four of the states holding contested congressional primaries on Tuesday.

The practice is both brazen and breathtakingly simple. To work around the prohibition on directly coordinating with super PACs, candidates are posting their instructions to them inside the red boxes on public pages that super PACs continuously monitor.

The boxes highlight the aspects of candidates’ biographies that they want amplified . . . Then, they add instructions that can be extremely detailed: Steering advertising spending to particular cities or counties, asking for different types of advertising and even slicing who should be targeted by age, gender and ethnicity.

‘Liberals, voters under 50 and women — across only San Antonio, Guadalupe and Atascosa counties,’ reads the targeting guidance from Jessica Cisneros, a Democratic challenger in South Texas.

‘Black voters ages 45+ in Durham and white women ages 45+ in Orange’ was the recent directive from Valerie Foushee, a Democratic House candidate in North Carolina locked in a competitive primary for an open seat.”

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