US panel affirms limits on campaign spending

By JACK GILLUM | December 1, 2011 | 11:56 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has ruled unanimously that Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah could not raise unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.

Lee heads the Constitutional Conservatives Fund political action committee. It asked the FEC whether it could receive limitless amounts of cash from corporations and labor unions, effectively making it the first so-called super PAC run by an elected official.

The FEC said Thursday in its 6-0 decision that leadership PACs, which help other members of Congress get elected, are controlled directly by a candidate for federal office and are bound by contribution limits. The decision comes nearly two years after the Supreme Court's ruling that allowed independent groups to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, so long as the groups don't coordinate with candidates.