Freshman Democratic Reps. Ami Bera and Raul Ruiz, learned that the hard way this week, when the California Republican Party asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate cameos both members made in a Web video produced by a Democratic super PAC.
The YouTube video, which has received just shy of 2,000 views since it was released last week, features seven House Democrats praising the work the independent committee did to get them elected. Bera, who ousted incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, in a race for Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District, says in the video that the PAC's support "was probably the difference in the outcome" from his failed 2010 bid against Lungren.
While the video doesn't solicit donations or endorse the members' re-election campaign, the GOP alleges that the very act of appearing in the clip violated campaign laws.
FEC regulations adopted in 2006 exempt certain content that appears online but isn't a paid advertisement, such as blog posts, from counting as a coordinated expenditure. CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro argues in a letter sent to the commission Wednesday that the cost of producing the video should be considered an illegal in-kind campaign contribution to the candidates.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for House Majority PAC, dismissed the complaint as a campaign stunt that lacks merit.
"Tom Del Beccaro's swan song amounts to a baseless, politically-motivated complaint not worth the paper it's printed on.," he wrote in an email. "This laughable effort is the period at the end of the sentence that defines Del Beccaro's embarrassing term as GOP party chair."
The Buzz: Ami Bera thanks super PAC that helped him win
PHOTO CREDIT: New Democratic Rep. Ami Bera thanks the House Majority PAC for helping him win his 7th Congressional District race. A caption notes that he was not seeking funds or donations.