For me, this is all crap – I think all these stupid campaign-finance regulations need to be repealed. People should be able to contribute to whomever they want. Organizations, such as unions and corporations, should also be allowed to contribute, provided shareholders or members approve, as appropriate. The only thing that should be required is full disclosure, and no one should be able to form an organization solely for the purpose of contributing to a campaign (kind of like the SEC rule that you can’t form a partnership for the purpose of buying a specific private security in order to get around registration requirements) unless the names of the individuals comprising the organization and contributing money to the organization were released. And no organization that produces political speech should be tax exempt. Pure disclosure of who gave what amount to whom – that would be all the accountability we need. That’s what I think, anyway.
However, that’s not what we have. We have McCain-Feingold, Buckley v. Valeo, and the tax-exempt 527 organizations mucking things all up. If I had the inclination to wager a $1, I would wager that all the 527s are technically compliant with the requirement that they not coordinate with campaigns – but that is a squishy standard, and who knows how closely they hew to the “spirit of the law,” whatever the hell that means (usually it means whatever the speaker wants it to mean). Of course, that may not be the case; see http://www.americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=511 and
With that lead in, here’s some info on some of the big 527s that are operating this election cycle, from a wonderful little website: http://www.opensecrets.org
[Note - the money figures are from the most recently release IRS data - quibble if you want with them, or feel free to update with newer info]
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
Receipts: $ 158,750
OpenSecrets.org Description: “SBVT represents Vietnam Swift boat veterans who are critical of Democrat John Kerry’s decision to make his military service a major part of his campaign for president. The group questions Kerry’s record in Vietnam and denounces his anti-war activities following his military service. The group’s donors include some major Republican contributors.”
Receipts: $ 28,127,488
OpenSecrets.org Description: “One of the leading Democratic interest groups dedicated to defeating President Bush in November. Plans to raise close to $100 million for a massive issue-ad campaign to support the Democratic presidential nominee. The ads will air in 17 battleground states.”
America Coming Together
OpenSecrets.org Description: “One of the leading Democratic interest groups dedicated to defeating President Bush in November. Run by longtime Democratic operatives and financed in part by wealthy Democratic donors, the group plans a massive voter mobilization effort in 17 battleground states.”
OpenSecrets.org Description: “Begun in 1998 to protest the impeachment of President Clinton, the group has become a powerful political force since then. Its political action committee, the MoveOn PAC, spends millions of dollars to support the election of Democratic candidates. The MoveOn.org Voter Fund is raising soft money, which may be contributed in unlimited amounts, for TV ads in key battleground states that are critical of President Bush.”
Here’s a link to a weblog post concerning the above, and it includes a chart comparing the money:
And here’s the infamous NYT chart on the “links” between Swiftboats and Bush:
The chart may have been a touch more informative if it included links to prominent Democrats, as well as prominent Republicans. The sum total of the chart is that Swiftboats raised a total of $225,000 from two men, one of whom, Bob Perry, knows Karl Rove. The other, Harlan Crow, is the trustee of the foundation for President George Bush?s library.
Here is a chart, obviously derivative of the NYT chart, showing the “links” between Kerry and the left-leaning 527s:
I think it’s at least as accurate as the NYT graphic – and, it would seem to me that the connections between Kerry and the left-leaning 527s are more pronounced than between the Bush campaign and the Swiftboat guys.
Also, here’s a little more info concerning disclosure of donor’s identities from the two campaigns:
Note, Kerry’s campaign has almost a 1/4 of all donors with “No Disclosure.” No disclosure means: No information about the donor’s employer and / or occupation was listed. In contrast, the Bush campaign has 93% “Full Disclosure,” which means: Includes full name and occupation / employer. The average for past Congressional campaigns is 91%, and a quick perusal of the Presidential campaigns shows only Wes Clark had less full disclosure than Kerry. Most candidates were in the 90s, with several others in the high 80s.
So there’s the data – now you can argue who’s smearing whom, and who’s somehow connected via a web of the “6 degrees of separation type” to whom.
nyway, my overall point is that Campaign Finance Reform is a bloody failure, that it was stupid to begin with, and if you care at all about free speech you would advocate what I do in the first paragraph above.
My second point is this: Let’s look at the issues and quit trying to smear the movtives on either side – at best, it amounts to circumstantial evidence that people are working against one candidate or the other, which addresses the underlying issues not at all.