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  Ads by Democratic Senator May Open Door to New Tactics
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Last EditedRBH  Oct 12, 2011 09:37pm
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MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateThursday, October 13, 2011 03:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionA new series of political advertisements on behalf of an embattled Nebraska senator could open the door to a flood of similar ads financed by outside groups and even businesses working directly with political candidates — a sharp departure from past practice.

The ads are innocuous enough on their face: Senator Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat up for re-election next year, is featured on television and radio commercials discussing Social Security, the national debt, war veterans and other hot-button issues. What is remarkable, campaign finance lawyers and political operatives say, is that the ads were produced and paid for by Democratic Party officials in Nebraska and Washington — with the senator’s close involvement as their star.

Federal campaign rules restrict politicians from “coordinating” their advertisements with outside groups except under certain circumstances. Politicians — worried about tripping over the legal restrictions — have usually shied away from working directly with outside groups on ads. Instead, “issue” ads paid for by outside groups will typically hit on broad themes without focusing so squarely on a single lawmaker.

The Nebraska ads, which have cost Democrats more than $600,000 to run so far, could change that practice in a way that has wide implications for the 2012 elections, when 33 Senate seats and all 435 House seats will be up for grabs.
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