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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


The proper relationship between a campaign and an independent expenditure committee

Hana Callaghan

According to the pundits, the chances are about fifty-fifty that you are going to lose your reelection. A good friend has told you that he has decided to spend $1,000,000 in independent expenditures on your behalf. You tell your campaign manager the good news. The next day you notice new content on your campaign website. It is an open letter to supporters from your campaign manager detailing a campaign wish list of items that their contributions will help buy, The wish list includes content of potential ads and details about potential ad buys in different media markets.   You say nothing, implicitly giving your approval to the new content.

Is this improper coordination?

Hana Callaghan, director of Government Ethics for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, wrote this case for her online course, How to Run an Ethical Political Campaign—and Win.

Jan 25, 2016
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