WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal election officials have narrowed the range of interest groups affected by political ad restrictions in the nation's new campaign finance law.
The Federal Election Commission decided Thursday to free tax-exempt charitable, educational and religious organizations from the rules, despite its lawyers' conclusion that such a move would go beyond what the law allows.
The FEC voted 4-2 to exempt the organizations from the law's provision that bans interest group TV and radio ads the month before a primary and two months before a general election if they name a federal candidate, are funded with unlimited corporate or union contributions and are targeted at the candidate's district.
The exemption was sought by the Sierra Club Foundation and the Alliance for Justice, an association of about 60 consumer, civil rights, environmental and other groups.
They argued the restrictions would prevent them from airing effective lobbying ads urging citizens to contact their members of Congress about key issues.
The law's prohibition does not apply to pre-election ads by campaigns, political parties and political action committees.
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