It's one of the few campaign finance restrictions that everyone in Washington interprets the same way: Outside groups that raise unlimited cash cannot, under any circumstances, coordinate with the candidates they seek to promote. It's frustrating to executive directors of super-PACs: What good is $25 million in outside money if you don't know where to spend it?
To deal with that vexing question, campaigns and super-PACs have looked for creative ways to signal each other without breaking the anti-coordination rule. Candidates share planned media buys with reporters, letting the super-PACs know the messages the campaigns plan to send to voters and giving the outside groups time to adjust their own commercials. Campaigns post seemingly meaningless video on their YouTube channels that super-PACs repackage in their political spots. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire even went so far as to publish a proposed ad script on her campaign website.
The weakness with these methods, from the campaign/super-PAC perspective, is that everyone else in the world can see what's going on–including the opposition.
Enter Twitter. CNN's Chris Moody has uncovered what may be another, more subtle, example of coordinating in plain sight: Republican operatives using burner Twitter accounts to share data. Tweets from the accounts–active only for a few months at at time–included a state postal code and then a string of seemingly meaningless numbers. In fact, Moody wrote, the numbers were likely internal polling figures from a campaign. One example was this tweet from @TruthTrain14 on Oct. 25: FL-44/42-44/44-35/35-42/41-49/47-10/22/14-26.
Moody revealed a few of the Twitter handles in his piece. He mentioned the accounts when he called the National Republican Senatorial Committee for comment. Within moments, the Twitter accounts disappeared, he reported.