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The Super PAC Workaround: How Candidates Quietly, Legally Communicate

The law says campaigns and interest groups can’t coordinate, but that doesn’t stop them
The Super PAC Workaround: How Candidates Quietly, Legally Communicate
Photo illustration by 731; Photographs by Getty Images (2)

When Republican Representative Cory Gardner of Colorado announced in March that he would run for the U.S. Senate, he knew he could count on backing from national Republican groups, including so-called super PACs. But he wasn’t allowed to talk to them directly. Federal election law prohibits campaigns from having contact with the super PACs and advocacy organizations that have come to dominate political spending since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Those rules were intended to put a wall between candidates, whose fundraising is constrained by federal limits, and special interest groups allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money promoting candidates and issues. In practice, campaigns have found ways to talk to super PACs while staying on the right side of the law.