updated 7/22/2010 3:07:13 PM ET 2010-07-22T19:07:13

Two new groups — one Republican-leaning, the other pro-Democratic — seeking to capitalize on a Supreme Court ruling allowing the use of unlimited donations for ads targeting candidates have gotten the go-ahead from election officials.

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The Federal Election Commission on Thursday approved plans by the conservative Club for Growth and by Democratic activists to collect big contributions for ads on candidates. Both say the committees set up to run the ads will disclose their donors and spending to the FEC in publicly available reports.

A Supreme Court ruling in January allows the use of unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and unions for election-time ads that urge people to vote for or against specific candidates and are run independently of campaigns and political parties. The court struck down restrictions on political ads, saying they violated free-speech rights.

The FEC's decisions on the two organizations do not necessarily mean it will be clear to voters where all interest groups airing ads this election season are getting their money.

The two groups voluntarily decided to file with the commission as political committees and periodically reveal who their donors are, but there are some political activists who believe that under the Supreme Court ruling, that degree of disclosure isn't required to legally raise corporate and union money for ads that target specific candidates.

The commission has yet to set new rules in light of the court decision that clearly spell out which ad spenders need to register with it, how much information they must give the public about their fundraising and spending, and when. It is unlikely to do so before the November election, when control of Congress is at stake. Legislation that would require those who air ads supporting or attacking candidates to disclose details about their activities has yet to clear Congress.

The Club for Growth told the commission its new committee will raise unlimited donations from individuals for the ads, and that it will run its ads on candidates without coordinating with campaigns, political parties or other outside groups.

The other group asking the commission for guidance on its plans, Commonsense Ten, said it will raise unlimited money from unions, corporations and individuals for ads calling for the election or defeat of candidates.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Supreme Court upends campaign finance law

  1. Closed captioning of: Supreme Court upends campaign finance law

    >> free

    >>> back now with news of a big change in american politics , one you will almost certainly see on your tv. the u.s. supreme court today overturned laws on the books for nearly a century and ruled that corporations can spend freely now on political campaigns . those who like this decision say it's a victory for free speech . those who don't, say campaigns will now be drowning in corporate cash and influence. our story from our justice correspondent pete williams .

    >> reporter: the landmark ruling on money and politics means tv viewers will likely see more of this.

    >> barack obama isn't the kind of change we need.

    >> on november 4th , defend freedom. defeat obama.

    >> reporter: the court struck down laws that prevented corporations from spending as much of their own money they wanted to buy ads supporting or opposing candidates. justice kennedy said the first amendment prohibits congress from fining citizens or associations of citizens for simply engaging in political speech. without today's ruling, he said congress could ban corporations from publishing political books or posting their political views on youtube, facebook or twitter.

    >> i think the supreme court decisions today are a big win for the first amendment, and a step in the right direction.

    >> reporter: the ruling is a victory for the backers of a documentary called "hillary the movie."

    >> is she ruthless? cunning, dishonest? willing to do anything for power?

    >> reporter: the government blocked it from tv last year because it was made with corporate money, but the court today said if it could be banned, so could a movie like "mr. smith goes to washington," also made by a corporation.

    >> because i wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules.

    >> reporter: today's ruling applies equally to political spending by nonprofit groups from the sierra club to the national rifle association . the fiore dissenters predicted corporate money will drown out the voice of the little guy.

    >> the supreme court has just predetermined the winners of next november's elections. it won't be republicans, it won't be democrats, it will be corporate america .

    >> reporter: president obama directed his staff to start working on changes to the law to undermine the decision, calling it a victory for big oil , wall street banks and health insurance companies. today's ruling likely means unions will be able to spend as much as they want on political ads, too, but corporations and unions still cannot contribute money directly to candidates. pete williams , nbc news at the supreme court .

    >>> another big recall from toyota


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