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Elections group to tackle Net political ads

A Federal Election Commission hearing is set to discuss how political ads on the Internet will be covered by a new campaign finance law.

The Federal Election Commission is convening a two-day hearing this week for a discussion of how political ads on the Internet will be covered by a new campaign finance law.

Earlier this month, the FEC published proposed regulations exempting such advertisements from the controversial McCain-Feingold Act.

The hearings, which begin Wednesday morning, are designed to seek public comment on the 67 pages of proposed rules, including the impact on Web sites.

For the most part, the rules would regulate broadcast, cable and satellite advertisements--but not Internet ads, Web broadcasts or print ads. One exception covers television and radio broadcasts that are simultaneously Webcast or that are archived for listening over the Internet.

Under the campaign finance law, signed by President Bush in March, corporations and labor unions generally may not engage in advocacy for a "clearly identified candidate for federal election" within 60 days of a general election, while individuals and other types of organizations may do so only if they disclose their spending to the FEC.

Scheduled speakers at the hearing include representatives of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Center for Responsive Politics and OMB Watch.

Other sections of the McCain-Feingold Act restrict so-called soft money donations.

Both parts of the law have drawn fire as constitutionally suspect and over-reaching. Some members of Congress, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., and groups such as the Libertarian Party and the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed suit to overturn the measure.

Public comments can be sent to electioneering@fec.gov by Thursday.