World and Nation

For both parties, a twisted path to financing a campaign

WASHINGTON — It is one of the most convoluted arrangements in Washington for complying with campaign finance laws — and that is saying something.

The four official party committees responsible for getting candidates elected to the House and the Senate each raise tens of millions of dollars for advertising and other activities on behalf of the people they have recruited and groomed. The heads of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee map out budgets and determine generally where their money would best be spent.

Then the committees turn over all the money they have worked so hard to raise to a separate entity for each party — an independent expenditure arm over which the committee officials have no control — that is responsible for researching, producing and placing campaign commercials.

But it is not like those in charge of the independent ad campaigns are unfamiliar with the thinking of the party committees. Typically, they have worked for or are closely associated with them. They might even have offices in the same building or just across the street. Still, they can no longer talk to their friends and colleagues about the campaign ads they are running because of the virtual “wall” separating the campaign organizations from their independent arms.