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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

FEC gets tough with 527s, but real cure is SORELY missing.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has gotten tough with 527s (named after the section of the IRS code that creates them). 527s are allowed to spend nearly unlimited amounts of money to address issues that "do not advocate for or against a candidate or coordinate their activities with a candidate's campaign", but are barred from accepting contributions from labor unions, corporations and more than $5,000 a year from individuals. The FEC fined the three groups -- Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth (remember the Kerry ads), Voter Fund (for anti-Bush ads), and the League of Conservation Voters 527 and 527 II -- $630,000.00 for either raising funds or paying for activities supporting or opposing Bush and Kerry presidential bids. Read it here.
I support 527s because I believe that they play an important informative role in our democracy -- if used properly within the rigid guidelines set up for them. Unfortunately some of these 527s skirt the rules, as these fines demonstrate, and we can expect to see more of them in the future. To cure what ails 527s, we should have them identify which candidate they support (when they mention the opposing candidate by name or inference) and have the supported candidate "approve this message", just as we do now with candidate paid political advertising.

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