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How Rand Paul just accidentally violated campaign-finance law
Every time Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks out against government surveillance on the Senate floor, many of his colleagues grumble to reporters that he’s just trying to raise money and attention for his presidential campaign. A Paul campaign ad that appears to violate campaign-finance laws gives new ammunition to their frustrations.
In the ad, titled “Rand Paul: Filibuster for the Fourth Amendment,” Paul is seen delivering his 10.5-hour Senate floor speech against reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, as Americans around the country tune in to watch.
But the rules of the Senate expressly ban campaigns from using video of floor proceedings in this way:
Sec. 6.\2\ (a) The use of any tape duplication of radio or television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate for political campaign purposes is strictly prohibited.
The Federal Election Commission interprets and applies campaign-finance laws, but an FEC spokeswoman told the Daily Dot in an earlier case that the commission “cannot comment [on] specific situations.”
The Paul campaign has not commented on the possible campaign-finance violation.
Paul was criticized for using Fox News footage of his 2013 anti-drone filibuster in his campaign’s kickoff video, but because the footage came from a news organization, it did not constitute a clear violation.
Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.