When an individual or political committee pays for a communication that is coordinated with a candidate or party committee, the communication is considered an in-kind contribution to that candidate or party committee and is subject to the limits, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the federal campaign finance law. FEC regulations establish a three-prong test to determine whether a communication is coordinated. All three prongs of the test—payment, content and conduct—must be met for a communication to be deemed coordinated and thus an in-kind contribution. 11 CFR 109.21.
In response to the DC Court of Appeals decision in Shays v. FEC, the Commission promulgated new regulations on Coordinated Communications. Specifically, these regulations redefine the pre-election time frames used in the content prong of the three-prong coordinated communication test. See 11 CFR 109.21(c)(4)(i) and (ii) and the FEC brochure "Coordinated Communications and Independent Expenditures" [HTML] [PDF] for additional information.
The charts below provide a breakdown of the 90-day coordinated communications periods for 2011-12 Special Elections.