What is ‘red-boxing’ and why is it an issue in R.I.’s congressional race?

John Marion weighs in on recent allegations of "red-boxing" by candidates in Rhode Island's First District congressional race.

This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe on August 23, 2023 and was written by Edward Fitzpatrick and Steph Machado.  

Below is Common Cause staff’s quote included in the article following the U.S. House of Representatives passage of a resolution that will prevent the OCE from holding members of Congress accountable to voters.  

Rhode Island campaign finance law prohibits coordination between independent spenders like super PACs and candidates’ campaigns, but it does not specifically outlaw red-boxing. John M. Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center have been urging the state Board of Elections for at least four years to adopt regulations that would clarify that types of coordination — including red-boxing — violate state campaign finance law. It hasn’t happened.


Marion said the current form of red-boxing has emerged since Rhode Island last made major changes in this area of campaign finance law in 2012.

“It was hard to imagine then that super PACs and candidates campaigns would be so sophisticated as to have hidden websites and cryptic tweets,” he said. “Sign stealing is maybe as old as baseball, but the sophistication of it has increased over time. Even our Red Sox got caught using an Apple Watch.”

Marion said, “The independent spending in elections which was unleashed by the US Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision is supposed to be completely separate from a candidate’s campaign, and when it is coordinated it eviscerates our limits on money in politics.”

To read the full article, click here.