A super PAC bankrolled by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending more than $500,000 on television ads in support of Sen. Al Franken.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Bloomberg is the only donor to Independence USA PAC, giving more than $12 million to the group since the start of 2013.
The group hasn’t spread its money around this election cycle, putting most of it into a single U.S. House race in Illinois. New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Franken are the only other candidates the group has spent money on.
Super PACs and candidates are not allowed to coordinate.
But Franken’s Republican challenger Mike McFadden says the Independence USA PAC ad and recent spots run by Franken include similar footage, which amounts to illegal coordination.
Franken’s spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said that’s not the case.
“There is absolutely no coordination,” she said “Anyone who is paying attention would know that newspapers across our state are endorsing Sen. Franken over Mike McFadden because of his hard work on behalf of the people of Minnesota.”
The incident illustrates a quirk in campaign finance law that prevents super PACs and candidates from coordinating: once video footage or photographs are available publicly on the Internet, any campaign or political group can use them in ads.
Case in point: some of the footage in the Independence USA PAC ad can be found in videos on Franken’s YouTube website, as well as another ad Franken’s campaign recently aired. There’s also B-roll footage of Franken interacting with supporters on his website.