Pacs and Candidates Get Close, but Not Too Close

The Democratic super Pac is sticky for Obama. After crusading against super Pacs and the Citizens United decision in 2010, Obama abandoned the clean-up-campaign-finance message as two of his White House aides, Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney, quit to form the super Pac. For months, Obama still maintained that he wouldn't accept money from outside groups, but he reversed on that completely this week.

FEC rules state that people associated with the campaign — be they staff members or, in Obama's case, his cabinet secretaries — aren't allowed to solicit donations for super Pacs. But they are allowed to be sort of featured guests at fundraising events for those super Pacs.

"The campaign's lawyers are threading the needle between what the law allows," Ryan said. "This is all a very specifically designed, very carefully designed plan."

Advocacy groups blame the FEC for what they say is a lethargic attitude on enforcing the coordination rules. For example, to be investigated, an instance of "coordination" must be reported by an outside party — a watchdog or a rival campaign, perhaps — and it must include specific and straightforward evidence, not just speculation. Needless to say, complaints like that are rare. The FEC declined to respond to such claims.

But advocates also blame Obama for not appointing a single FEC commissioner since 2009, while five out of its six often-divided commissioners are serving terms that have expired. The White House declined to give a reason for why Obama hasn't appointed new commissioners.

A senior Obama campaign official who refused to be named said that conversations between the campaign and the pro-Obama super Pac will be only about the dates of fundraising events and who will be there.

"There will be no conversations beyond what's necessary to bring the particular appearance off," the official said. "There will be no discussion of strategic nonpublic information that would be in any way helpful to a political committee."

ABC News' Devin Dwyer contributed to this story.

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