DeKalb, IL – WNIJ has uncovered a gap in the regulation of campaign advertisements. It has to do with a special election in Illinois.
A federal judge recently ruled that a special election is needed to fill President Obama's former Senate term, which ends January 3rd. That vote will occur the same day as the GENERAL election for the term STARTING January 3rd. Both ballots will have the same candidates. A Federal Election Commission spokeswoman says candidates running for two offices must keep all accounting and funds separate. But she says the agency has no rules for spending for ads that ask voters to support a candidate in BOTH ELECTIONS. And that's a problem, according to Northern Illinois University political scientist Matt Streb. He says the ad would already be out there: you can take it off TV, but you can't take away the fact that people have already seen it. Streb calls the FEC's handling of the case "reactive, not proactive."
Streb says candidates who air ads that don't follow regulations could face a fine.
Meanwhile, Senator Roland Burris has decided to appeal a judge's decision that keeps him off the ballot in the special election. U.S. District Judge John Grady ruled the nominees who will appear on the general election ballot will automatically be placed on the special election ballot. Burris is not running for a full-term, but has said he would like to finish out the term to which he was appointed.