When longtime Democratic operative Brad Woodhouse left his job heading one super PAC to lead another, he didn't even change desks — but he did step across an invisible legal boundary. Until recently, Woodhouse over-saw strategy for American Bridge, a super PAC dedicated to attacking Republican candidates. But on May 12, he jumped to Correct the Record, the pro"“Hillary Clinton rapid-response and research group that had just spun off from American Bridge. As with all super PACs, both groups can take unlimited donations — but Correct the Record believes that it, unlike other such groups, is exempt from a prohibition against coordinating directly with political campaigns.
Brad Woodhouse is the president of Correct The Record. (Chet Susslin)How so? The key to Correct the Record's strategy is a 2006 Federal Election Commission decision that "the vast majority of Internet communications are, and will remain, free from campaign finance regulation." So the group focuses strictly on influencing the conversation about Clinton using free, online methods, such as tweets or blog posts, as well as what Woodhouse refers to as "earned media" — placing quotes or research with reporters — rather than on paid advertising. "We're constantly thinking of ways to deliver messages that don't require slick television ads," Woodhouse, 47, tells me when I visit Correct the Record's hip, 6th-floor offices. "Being quick and pithy and smart and snarky in the digital space is just as important as anything else." It also allows them to slip under the firewall between independent groups and political campaigns. (Not everyone agrees with this interpretation of the regulation, however. The conservative watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, for instance, has filed a complaint arguing that Correct the Record's activities run counter to the broader intention of campaign-finance regulations, and has called on the FEC to "immediately investigate and enforce the law.")