The Message Is the Media

DCCC Wants Members to Provide ‘B Roll’ by End of Year for TV Ads

Posted December 12, 2003 at 5:28pm

By Chris Cillizza Roll Call Staff Seeking to abide by new coordination restrictions placed on them by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a memo to all House Democrats earlier this month asking them to provide video footage from their own archives.

“We are building a library of professional grade video footage upon which we can draw in the future,” DCCC Executive Director Jim Bonham wrote in the Dec. 5 letter. “We draw from this library for [our] use in such activities as independent expenditures campaigns, fundraising dinners, celebrations, key anniversaries and even Web-based video productions.”

Under BCRA, which was passed in the 107th Congress and validated in large measure by the Supreme Court on Dec. 10, national party committees cannot coordinate their activities with candidates.

One of the primary manifestations of this prohibition is that campaign committees are forbidden to call a Member’s office mid- cycle to request footage designed to illustrate a particular issue or theme, with the aim of using it in an advertising campaign.

The committee will pay fair market value to Members for their footage. The National Republican Congressional Committee has had a similar effort under way for several months.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already shot “B-roll” footage of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has not yet begun collecting footage.

In his letter, Bonham specifically requested images that demonstrate “support of seniors, health care, teachers and children, police and firefighters, manufacturing and job creation, building and construction trades, agriculture, [and] national defense and military services.”

“Because it would be impossible to predict what may or may not be useful in the years ahead, we want to build as large a library as possible,” he added.

While the DCCC has maintained a video library in years past, this beefing-up effort is in direct response to the BCRA provision banning any coordination, said DCCC Communications Director Kori Bernards.

“Due to the new campaign finance rules we have an interest in having a large library, and for that reason we are preparing,” she said.

The coordination provision is one example of the myriad ways that 2004 House and Senate campaigns will be impacted by BCRA, the most notable of which is the ban on party committees raising nonfederal, soft money.

At first glance, that provision appears to hand Republicans a significant advantage.

The three Republican committees have raised $174 million through Sept. 30 compared to $75 million for the three Democratic organizations, according to PoliticalMoneyline.com.

In the 2002 cycle, Democrats were able to stay within financial shouting distance of their Republican counterparts due largely to their success in the soft-money realm.

Democratic party committees took in $520 million in 2001 and 2002, $245 million of which was in nonfederal, soft money. Republicans raised $717 million with $250 million coming in nonfederal contributions.

On a related note, the DCCC and Democratic National Committee are expected to move into their new headquarters Monday after a yearlong, soft money-fueled overhaul.

The building, at 430 South Capitol St., was remodeled using $30 million in soft money, prepaid in the final days before BCRA went into effect last year.

Since construction began in January, the DCCC has been housed in the nearby Fairchild Building, while the DNC had its headquarters downtown.