The Constitution and the association publisher: Does producing a dozen recurring publications, including two large-circulation magazines, make a lobbying group a “news organization,” exempt from spending limits in the new campaign finance law? It appears we are going to find out. According to AP, the National Rifle Association may challenge the campaign finance law on just such grounds.
The finance law, which took effect in November 2002, bars interest groups financed with corporate or union money from airing television and radio ads the month before a primary and two months before a general election that identify federal candidates, are paid for with corporate or union money and target candidates’ districts.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told AP they may pursue the media exemption even if its previous challenge to the campaign finance law should prevail in the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule soon. The NRA could ask the Federal Election Commission whether it qualifies for the media exemption, go to court, or both. And, to beef up its claim to the media exemption, the NRA is even exploring the possibility of purchasing a television or radio station, in addition to its stable of magazines and newsletter.
“We’re looking at bringing a court case that we’re as legitimate a media outlet as Disney or Viacom or Time-Warner,” the NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, told AP. “Why should they have an exclusive right to relay information to the public, and why should not NRA be considered as legitimate a news source as they are? That’s never been explored legally.”