T Nation

527s

For me, this is all crap – I think all these stupid campaign-finance regulations need to be repealed.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
http://qando.net/archives/003866.htm

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.”

Media Fund
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
Receipts: $26,905,450
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.”


Receipts: $9,086,102
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:

http://www.truthlaidbear.com/archives/2004/08/22/527s_in_perspective.php#001354

And here’s the infamous NYT chart on the “links” between Swiftboats and Bush:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/archives/20040820swift_graph.html

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:

http://www.blogsforbush.com/mt/archives/001759.html#001759

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:

http://www.opensecrets.org/presidential/scoffall.asp?cycle=2004

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.

It’s not just about how much money a group has.

The Swifty Boat Liars only ran their ad in 3 states, but since every news organization has picked up the story and run with it, they have hads to spend very little. They’ve had far more FREE airplay of their commercial, than paid airplay.

I would be more interested in hearing which groups lie, and which groups tell the truth.

Let me also say that, to the extent Bush is talking about restricting 527s, as opposed to calling on 527s to elevate the tone of their ads, I disagree with him.

Here’s an explanation from Eugene Volokh, 1st Amendment prof. at UCLA law, on why this sort of speech should be protected from governmental restriction by the 1st Amendment:

http://www1.law.ucla.edu/~volokh/buckley.htm

[Scroll down; footnotes omitted]

The Basic Right To Express Your Views

To begin with, I think the Court was right to strike down the limit on independent expenditures, because that limit infringed core First Amendment rights.

Say you wanted to put a modest ad in a medium-sized newspaper saying ?I?m outraged by Bush?s stand on abortion, and urge everyone to throw him out of the White House.? Under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA),[3] it probably would have been a crime for you to express yourself in this way. Placing an ad in any decent-sized newspaper would almost certainly cost more than $1000, the expenditure limit imposed by FECA.[4] FECA would likewise have barred you from printing up a couple of hundred T-shirts, spending over $1000 to set up a professionally-designed Web site, and of course buying radio or television time. The law didn?t just ban ?independent expenditures? in the abstract?it banned people from speaking when that speech was modestly expensive (as effective speech often is).

But isn?t this restriction justified by the need to give ?each citizen a fair and reasonably equal opportunity to command attention for [their] own views??[5] Well, Barbra Streisand, by endorsing a candidate and ?donating? to that candidate her name and all the publicity that goes with it, can surely command more attention than I can. So can the editorial board of The New York Times. So can journalists who write about candidates for the Times. But this doesn?t justify barring Barbra Streisand, the Times editors, or the Times reporters from speaking this way.

Their rights to speak should not be sacrificed in the name of equality; and that includes their rights to speak when the speech requires spending money. Times editors and reporters, for instance, speak by using valuable newspaper space. Under any sensible accounting system, the value of Streisand?s endorsement, or of several column-inches in a leading newspaper, would be worth much more than $1000. Each of us should likewise have the same right to spend our assets (which may be money rather than fame or access to the newspaper page) to express our views.

Actually, many rationales for restricting campaign-related speech would justify restricting newspapers and magazines. Professor Raskin,[6] for instance, commented that corporations should have no constitutional or statutory right to spend money to advance partisan political agendas.[7] Likewise, the League of Women Voters Education Fund?s proposal would bar corporations from spending money to distribute ?[a]ny paid communication with the general public that uses a federal candidate?s name or likeness within 90 days of a primary or of a general election.?[8] Most papers and magazines are owned by corporations.

I suspect these commentators would limit their proposals to somehow exclude corporations that are part of the media, just as FECA did,[9] but what would be the principled reason for this? If The New Republic is entitled to spend money to advance its partisan political agenda, why shouldn?t other corporations be entitled to do the same?[10]

The Internet makes special treatment for the media especially problematic. Am I a media entity if I create a Web page? Most corporations have Web pages; does this make them media corporations? And if they or I buy an ad in a newspaper, or buy space on a billboard, aren?t we at least temporary media entities, just as the newspaper corporation or billboard corporation are permanent media entities?

These campaign finance proposals don?t just sacrifice free speech in the name of equality?they subordinate the free speech of some (non-media corporations and unknown individuals), while protecting the speech of others (the media and celebrities). This does not seem either libertarian or egalitarian.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
It’s not just about how much money a group has.

The Swifty Boat Liars only ran their ad in 3 states, but since every news organization has picked up the story and run with it, they have hads to spend very little. They’ve had far more FREE airplay of their commercial, than paid airplay.[/quote]

The only free airplay that these Veterans have received has been negative. They are entitled to their opinion, but the “free” press has done nothing but criticize and discredit them.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
It’s not just about how much money a group has.

The Swifty Boat Liars only ran their ad in 3 states, but since every news organization has picked up the story and run with it, they have hads to spend very little. They’ve had far more FREE airplay of their commercial, than paid airplay.

I would be more interested in hearing which groups lie, and which groups tell the truth.[/quote]

Make no mistake about it – Kerry created this media coverage, and gave it legs. His ham-handed tactic of filing lawsuits and calling for the publisher of the book merely drew attention to the accusations, and his failure to address the factual claims, preferring instead to have the media or some proxies argue for him, combined with repeated attacks on the SwiftBoats group rather than focusing on the facts, has been what has kept this in the public eye. If Kerry had simply released all his records from the beginning, this would have been a non-event. As it is, he still looks like he’s hiding stuff because he won’t allow the Navy to release all his documents, and won’t release his diaries.

That, and, of course, Kerry’s bringing the Viet Nam issue into prominence in the first place. If he had stuck to the current issues and not spent so much time emphasizing the fact he served in Viet Nam, this issue would be completely irrelevant.

Now, as for politics, Kerry is outflanked again by his focus on the 527 organizations, which look like a huge advantage for the Democrats. Kerry, in repeatedly trying to dig at the President for “letting others fight his battles” has allowed the President to call for the cessation of all 527 ads and the like, knowing full well that this is something with which the Kerry campaign will never agree. So he will reinforce his image as a flip-flopper.

For all of the people who maintain this is Kerry’s race to lose, he’s doing a good job of doing just that.

Kerry’s records are available on his website, unlike Bush’s which are “missing”. Obviously you’d like Kerry to spend time discussing the Swift Boat charges.

The goal is to not spend any time talking about how many soldiers have been killed in Iraq, or how there is no exit strategy, or how slow the economy is for the average American.

Any way to avoid talking about the real issues is good for the Bushies.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
Kerry’s records are available on his website, unlike Bush’s which are “missing”. Obviously you’d like Kerry to spend time discussing the Swift Boat charges.

The goal is to not spend any time talking about how many soldiers have been killed in Iraq, or how there is no exit strategy, or how slow the economy is for the average American.

Any way to avoid talking about the real issues is good for the Bushies.[/quote]

Sorry to burst your bubble Lumpy, but Kerry has not released all his military records, nor has he released the diaries. Kerry has been selective in what he has released, and despite all statements to the contrary, has not made key portions of his record public.

http://www.nationalreview.com/kerry/kerryspot.asp

[Post excerpted, no permalink available]

The good news for Kerry is that he has released 149 pages of Naval records.

But there are still some gaps.

The site includes after-action (“spot”) reports from two of the combat actions in which John Kerry was wounded. Spot Reports for February, 1969 [pdf: 2.1MB] Spot Reports for March, 1969 [pdf: 301kb].But there is no listing for the first Purple Heart, which Kerry received for action on Dec. 2, 1968.

It appears that ?hostile fire reports? are distinct from ?after action? or ?spot? reports. Kerry?s web site doesn?t list any hostile fire reports.

Then there are the medical records, which Kerry has not released. The truth is, we won?t know what else is in Kerry?s file that hasn?t been released until he opens it up.

(And while it is not a U.S. Navy record, there is also Kerry?s war diary, which only official biographer Douglas Brinkley is allowed to read and excerpt from.)

Besides that, if the 90 or more documents that the Navy is not allowed to release to the public without Kerry?s permission is just what?s on the web site, then why not file DD Form 180, releasing all the records? If the documents are the same, why not just fill out the form, let the public see that all these hidden documents are already on the web site, and let every yahoo who has called for releasing the records (including your humble Kerry Spot correspondent) get stuck with egg on their faces?


[End Excerpt]

Bush isn’t related to the Swiftvets either – at least not in any way outside the fevered dillusions of the conspiracy minded and the NYT. It’s easy to throw out such allegations, but I’ve yet to see any proof. The closest thing to proof is that some state-level campaign volunteer appeared in a commercial. Now, let me ask you this: If you were actively doing something illegal, such as directing a 527 when you were a candidate, would you put someone from your campaign in a commercial? One assumes, if one were controlling and directing things, that one might be able to control the production of commercials, or at least preview them before they aired…

From UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge, echoing my sentiments above:

http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2004/08/thanks_john.html

Thanks John

Are you enjoying the Swift Boat controversy? If not, don’t blame Bush or the Swifities or even Kerry. Blame John McCain and Russ Feingold. Campaign finance took money away from the parties, who historically were at least semi-responsible, and gave it to the 527s like MoveOn.Org and the Swifties. Can you say “unintended consequence”? Just goes to show that Russell Kirk was right when he said “change may not be salutary reform; hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration, rather than a torch of progress.” If it were up to me, I’d repeal all campaign finance laws except strict disclosure requirements.

To the extent this is correct, I am troubled – I don’t like the fact Bush is favoring curtailment of free speech for political reasons:

[Note, the poster is an anonymous member of the Volokh Conspiracy weblog, who remains anonymous for his own reasons - likely because he is an untenured professor who does not want to be discriminated against in hiring decisions because of his conservative/libertarian views]

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_08_21.shtml#1093382899

[Juan Non-Volokh, August 24, 2004 at 5:28pm] Possible Trackbacks
Why Bush Bashes 527s:
When President Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, he made clear that he did not care all that much about legal protection for political speech. (Ditto the Supreme Court when it upheld the law.) So no one should be surprised that Bush is now calling for an end to independent political advertisements, such as those run by “527” organizations. After all, eliminating these “shadowy” groups is clearly in the President’s political interest (contrary to the suggestions of Matt Yglesias and Amy Sullivan). While there are prominent GOP-leaning 527s, the vast majority of 527 money is flowing to anti-Bush organizations. As detailed on OpenSecrets.org, most of the multi-million-dollar 527s are lined up against the President. Indeed, only one of the ten largest 527s, the Club for Growth, is anti-Kerry. Yet much of the Club’s money goes to support “pro-growth” House and Senate races and to defeat Republican lawmakers who vote to raise taxes. Yglesias cites to the National Federation of Republican Women, but they’re only the 49th largest 527 listed by OpenSecrets.org. Losing the benefit of NFRW and other small groups would be a small price for the GOP to pay in return for eliminating the Media Fund, America Coming Together, and MoveOn.org – just to name three of the largest 527s in the nation, each of which opposes Bush with sums that make NFRW’s budget look like chump change. Let me be clear: I oppose the President’s position on 527s. I am against most, if not all, limits on campaign speech – including those by independent groups. The President was wrong to sign McCain-Feingold into law, and he is wrong again here. I would further argue that fewer donors would give to such independent groups – and we’d have fewer “shadowy” ads – if it were easier to give larger amounts directly to candidates or to provide traditional “soft money” contributions to political parties. President Bush’s position strikes me as rank opportunism – and it is so , in part, because 527 contributions have overwhelmingly benefitted his opposition.

I agree with this statement 100%.

And note to ZEB: BB has made 6 of the 9 posts on this thread. I know you keep track of stuff like that, so I just thought you’d want to know.

It’s illegal for a 527 to be connected with a candidate’s election campaign. Here are some current links between the Swift Boat Vets and the Bush campaign:

“Swift Boat Vet” Kenneth Cordier was an advisor to Bush-Cheney Veterans’ Committee. After Cordier appeared in the first Swift Boat ad (and only after he was exposed) he was dismissed. Up until 8/20/04 Cordier’s name appeared on the Bush website as an advisor.

“Swift Boat Vet” Paul Galanti is an advisor for Bush administration’s Dept. of Veteran Affairs.
http://www.newshounds.us/2004/08/21/swiftee_paul_galanti_works_for_dept_of_vet_affairs.php

Bush-Cheney Florida headquarters promote a local appearance by the “Swift Boat Vets”
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040821/ap_on_el_pr/bush_swift_boats_1
(Bush HQ does not deny that the flier was there, they only claim that they don’t know how it got there. Pictures on the web show the flier tacked on the Bush office bulletin board)

A top lawyer for President Bush’s re-election campaign is also the legal advisor for the “Swift Boat Vets”. Ben Ginsberg is the Bush campaign’s chief outside counsel.

Texas Republican Bob Perry, the main financial backer behind the “Swift Boat Vets” group, is co-hosting a fund-raiser for Bush-Cheney in Manhattan during the convention next week. Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove is slated to appear at the fund-raiser.

These five examples appear to suggest an illegal connection between the official Bush-Cheney campaign and the “Swift Boat Vets”.

Lumpy –

“Connected” in this case refers to coordination at the official level, not to persons having connections to both groups. You can play six-degrees-of-separation all you like, but this is weak stuff.

This is valid criticism, IMHO. Bush should have vetoed this – some would argue he had a constitutional duty to veto it if he believed at the time it was unconstitutional, which he said he did.

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB109338938282800272,00.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks

Too Bad He Signed It
August 25, 2004; Page A10

President Bush didn’t tell the full story on Monday when he denounced TV ads by such “527s” as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But not because he didn’t agree to the Kerry campaign’s demand that he repudiate the specific Swift Boat ads. Our gripe is that Mr. Bush assailed the very campaign-finance system that he helped create.

“I don’t think we ought to have 527s,” Mr. Bush said, referring to the independent political fund-raising groups that have become such an important part of this election season. “And I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning those activities of the 527s. It’s the – I think they’re bad for the system.”

Not so fast, Mr. President. One reason 527s are so prominent now is because Mr. Bush made the mistake of signing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance “reform” that barred big donations to political parties. So 527s have become the new alternative vehicle that Americans passionate about politics are using to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech. The difference is that now the campaigns can’t control how that money is spent.

If Mr. Bush wanted the two major parties to better control their campaign messages, he could have vetoed McCain-Feingold. Some of us urged him to do so, but his political advisers whispered not to worry, the Supreme Court will take care of it. Well, Sandra Day O’Connor failed too, but in any event since when are Presidents supposed to pass the buck to judges?

In our view, this was among the worst moments of Mr. Bush’s term. Having helped to midwife the current campaign-finance system, it ill behooves him to blame others for the way this world works.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
It’s illegal for a 527 to be connected with a candidate’s election campaign. Here are some current links between the Swift Boat Vets and the Bush campaign:[/quote]

Actually, you probably won’t acknowledge the weakness of all of this unless it’s pointed out on a case-by-case basis:

[quote]“Swift Boat Vet” Kenneth Cordier was an advisor to Bush-Cheney Veterans’ Committee. After Cordier appeared in the first Swift Boat ad (and only after he was exposed) he was dismissed. Up until 8/20/04 Cordier’s name appeared on the Bush website as an advisor.
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2751622[/quote]

This one is my favorite. Let’s see - wasn’t fired until “exposed.” Couldn’t this be because when he was “exposed” this was the first the campaign knew of this? This is the most likely explanation, especially given the fact that you would have to assume the Bush campaign was monumentally, stupefyingly inept to place one of its campaign workers in the commercial for a 527, or even to allow it, when collusion between the campaign and the 527 is illegal. If they were colluding and had control, they would not have allowed him in the commercial in the first instance. If they even got to preview the ad, and knew who he was (low-level state operative that he was), they would have pulled it.

This is just stupid.

[quote]“Swift Boat Vet” Paul Galanti is an advisor for Bush administration’s Dept. of Veteran Affairs.
http://www.newshounds.us/2004/08/21/swiftee_paul_galanti_works_for_dept_of_vet_affairs.php[/quote]

Apparently anyone who works for the government in an official capacity is disallowed from having political affiliations with 527s? That’s not my understanding. What position does Galanti have with the Bush campaign?

[quote]Bush-Cheney Florida headquarters promote a local appearance by the “Swift Boat Vets”
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040821/ap_on_el_pr/bush_swift_boats_1
(Bush HQ does not deny that the flier was there, they only claim that they don’t know how it got there. Pictures on the web show the flier tacked on the Bush office bulletin board)[/quote]

Weak. I could go put a flier on the bulletin board right now, and the managing partner of my firm, and probably most of the partners, would never see it. Have you ever worked on a campaign? I have. Lots of volunteers come in to help out, and people don’t follow them around to make certain they don’t tack inappropriate material to the bulletin board.

In fact, if I wanted to, given I’m in D.C., I could probably go in to Kerry’s campaign office right now, tack something on his bulletin board, take a picture, and leave, and no one would say a damn thing because no one would notice.

[quote]A top lawyer for President Bush’s re-election campaign is also the legal advisor for the “Swift Boat Vets”. Ben Ginsberg is the Bush campaign’s chief outside counsel.

Actually, I take it back – this is my favorite. Do you know how many public companies my firm does work for? Of course, you’d have no way of knowing that, but for the sake of argument let’s say 100. None of those clients has anything to do with any of the others simply because we represent them. If you show Latham & Watkins (not my firm) represents Ford and GM as outside counsel (I have no idea if they do - this is a fictional example for the purpose of argument), do you really think you’ve demonstrated collusion between GM and Ford? Whoever would even imply this proves anything knows precisely nothing about lawyer-client relationships. Actually, ignorance would be the charitable explanation. The not-so-charitable explanation would be that they’re lying through their teeth.

[quote]Texas Republican Bob Perry, the main financial backer behind the “Swift Boat Vets” group, is co-hosting a fund-raiser for Bush-Cheney in Manhattan during the convention next week. Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove is slated to appear at the fund-raiser.

Wow, you mean someone working for the Swiftboat Vets wants Bush to be elected? Please, say it ain’t so? You think George Soros or any Hollywood types who contributed to MoveOn.org or their ilk perhaps hosted or attended fund raisers for Kerry? This doesn’t demonstrate anything other than a coincidence of purpose. Someone who wants to defeat Bush can give money to MoveOn.org, and give money or raise money for Kerry, and that does not imply any coordination between Kerry and MoveOn.org. Substitute Swiftboat Vets for MoveOn.org and Bush for Kerry above and the reasoning still stands.

[quote]These five examples appear to suggest an illegal connection between the official Bush-Cheney campaign and the “Swift Boat Vets”.

[/quote]

Basically, if there were anything to these, the FEC would come in and lay the smack down. But they’re weak, and they give the Kerry camp the whiff of desperation.

Related to the NYT article below:

Funniest line I’ve heard today: Kerry camp on ties between their lawyers and anti-Bush 527s

Sometimes I genuinely can’t tell if the NYT’s reporters have a deliciously droll sense of humor or are just really dense (bracketed portion, boldface, and underscoring added):

[Begin NYT Excerpt]"Mr. Ginsberg, the chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, agreed to an interview after several telephone calls to him and the campaign's asking that he explain his role. He said that he was helping the group comply with campaign finance rules and that his work was entirely separate from his work for the president. President Bush has called for an end to advertising by all groups like that of the Swift boat veterans, called 527's for the section of the tax code that created them.

The campaign of Senator John Kerry shares a lawyer, Robert Bauer, with America Coming Together, a liberal group that is organizing a huge multimillion-dollar get-out-the-vote drive that is far more ambitious than the Swift boat group's activities. Mr. Ginsberg said his role was no different from Mr. Bauer's....

[Referring to Ginsberg's advising the SwiftVets:] "It's another piece of evidence of the ties between the Bush campaign and this group," Chad Clanton, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said. Asked about his [i.e., the Kerry] campaign's use of shared lawyers, Mr. Clanton said, "If the Bush campaign truly disapproved of this smear, their top lawyer wouldn't be involved."[End NYT Excerpt]

Kudos to the NYT for asking about the hypocrisy. Jeers for either being too subtle with their humor, or for instead simply missing the fact that Mr. Clanton wouldn’t answer their question. In either event, jeers for burying this delicious bit in their fourth-to-the-bottom paragraph.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Lumpy wrote:
It’s illegal for a 527 to be connected with a candidate’s election campaign. Here are some current links between the Swift Boat Vets and the Bush campaign: [/quote]

Actually, you probably won’t acknowledge the weakness of all of this unless it’s pointed out on a case-by-case basis:

[quote]“Swift Boat Vet” Kenneth Cordier was an advisor to Bush-Cheney Veterans’ Committee. After Cordier appeared in the first Swift Boat ad (and only after he was exposed) he was dismissed. Up until 8/20/04 Cordier’s name appeared on the Bush website as an advisor.
http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2751622 [/quote]

This one is my favorite. Let’s see - wasn’t fired until “exposed.” Couldn’t this be because when he was “exposed” this was the first the campaign knew of this? This is the most likely explanation, especially given the fact that you would have to assume the Bush campaign was monumentally, stupefyingly inept to place one of its campaign workers in the commercial for a 527, or even to allow it, when collusion between the campaign and the 527 is illegal. If they were colluding and had control, they would not have allowed him in the commercial in the first instance. If they even got to preview the ad, and knew who he was (low-level state operative that he was), they would have pulled it.

This is just stupid.

[quote]“Swift Boat Vet” Paul Galanti is an advisor for Bush administration’s Dept. of Veteran Affairs.
http://www.newshounds.us/2004/08/21/swiftee_paul_galanti_works_for_dept_of_vet_affairs.php [/quote]

Apparently anyone who works for the government in an official capacity is disallowed from having political affiliations with 527s? That’s not my understanding. What position does Galanti have with the Bush campaign?

[quote]Bush-Cheney Florida headquarters promote a local appearance by the “Swift Boat Vets”
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040821/ap_on_el_pr/bush_swift_boats_1
(Bush HQ does not deny that the flier was there, they only claim that they don’t know how it got there. Pictures on the web show the flier tacked on the Bush office bulletin board) [/quote]

Weak. I could go put a flier on the bulletin board right now, and the managing partner of my firm, and probably most of the partners, would never see it. Have you ever worked on a campaign? I have. Lots of volunteers come in to help out, and people don’t follow them around to make certain they don’t tack inappropriate material to the bulletin board.

In fact, if I wanted to, given I’m in D.C., I could probably go in to Kerry’s campaign office right now, tack something on his bulletin board, take a picture, and leave, and no one would say a damn thing because no one would notice.

[quote]A top lawyer for President Bush’s re-election campaign is also the legal advisor for the “Swift Boat Vets”. Ben Ginsberg is the Bush campaign’s chief outside counsel.
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=6061397 [/quote]

Actually, I take it back – this is my favorite. Do you know how many public companies my firm does work for? Of course, you’d have no way of knowing that, but for the sake of argument let’s say 100. None of those clients has anything to do with any of the others simply because we represent them. If you show Latham & Watkins (not my firm) represents Ford and GM as outside counsel (I have no idea if they do - this is a fictional example for the purpose of argument), do you really think you’ve demonstrated collusion between GM and Ford? Whoever would even imply this proves anything knows precisely nothing about lawyer-client relationships. Actually, ignorance would be the charitable explanation. The not-so-charitable explanation would be that they’re lying through their teeth.

[quote]Texas Republican Bob Perry, the main financial backer behind the “Swift Boat Vets” group, is co-hosting a fund-raiser for Bush-Cheney in Manhattan during the convention next week. Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove is slated to appear at the fund-raiser.
http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/ny-uskerr0825,0,6067267.story?coll=ny-top-headlines [/quote]

Wow, you mean someone working for the Swiftboat Vets wants Bush to be elected? Please, say it ain’t so? You think George Soros or any Hollywood types who contributed to MoveOn.org or their ilk perhaps hosted or attended fund raisers for Kerry? This doesn’t demonstrate anything other than a coincidence of purpose. Someone who wants to defeat Bush can give money to MoveOn.org, and give money or raise money for Kerry, and that does not imply any coordination between Kerry and MoveOn.org. Substitute Swiftboat Vets for MoveOn.org and Bush for Kerry above and the reasoning still stands.

Basically, if there were anything to these, the FEC would come in and lay the smack down. But they’re weak, and they give the Kerry camp the whiff of desperation.

Bush Campaign’s Top Outside Lawyer Advised Veterans Group
By JIM RUTENBERG and KATE ZERNIKE

The Bush campaign’s top outside lawyer said Tuesday that he had given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam War record and antiwar activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news programs.

The lawyer, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, said that the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, called him last month to ask for his help and that he agreed. Mr. Ginsberg said that he had yet to work out payment details with the group and that he might consider doing the work pro bono.

Mr. Ginsberg, the chief outside counsel to the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, agreed to an interview after several telephone calls to him and the campaign’s asking that he explain his role. He said that he was helping the group comply with campaign finance rules and that his work was entirely separate from his work for the president. President Bush has called for an end to advertising by all groups like that of the Swift boat veterans, called 527’s for the section of the tax code that created them.

The campaign of Senator John Kerry shares a lawyer, Robert Bauer, with America Coming Together, a liberal group that is organizing a huge multimillion-dollar get-out-the-vote drive that is far more ambitious than the Swift boat group’s activities. Mr. Ginsberg said his role was no different from Mr. Bauer’s.

Mr. Bush’s campaign aides have repeatedly said they have no connection to the group, almost all of whose challenges to Mr. Kerry and his war record have been contradicted by official war records and even some of its members’ own past statements.

Scott Stanzel, a Bush spokesman, said, “There has been no coordination at any time between Bush-Cheney '04 and any 527.”

Mr. Ginsberg, a prominent elections lawyer, was a senior lawyer for the Bush organization in the Florida recount after the 2000 election and was once general counsel to the Republican National Committee. He said he had no involvement in the message or strategy of the Swift boat group and said he had no reason to believe that Mr. Bush knew of his involvement.

"The truth is there are very few lawyers who work in this area,’’ Mr. Ginsberg said. "It’s sort of natural that people do come to the few of us for the work. What happened was a month or so ago some decorated Vietnam vets came to me and said: ‘We have an important point of view to enter into the debate. There’s a new law that’s complicated, and we want help complying with the law.’ "

He added, “I have given them some legal compliance advice.”

Mr. Kerry has gone on the offensive over the group’s activities, saying it is “a front” for Mr. Bush’s campaign and repeatedly calling on the president to repudiate an advertisement from the group attacking his record. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who is also a decorated war veteran, has also called on Mr. Bush to repudiate the spots.

The 527 groups are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as they do not coordinate their activities with federal campaigns or political parties. Campaign finance rules do not prohibit lawyers from working for both outside groups and campaigns because they are not considered strategists.

Mr. Bush has declined to take on the group directly but repeated this week that he believed that all outside groups should stop advertising.

Mr. Ginsberg had been at the forefront of pressing the legal case against Democratic 527’s, which have spent more than $60 million on advertisements against Mr. Bush.

In complaints against the groups, Republican lawyers have noted that Harold M. Ickes, who has helped raise money for and organize America Coming Together and the Media Fund, both 527 groups, is also on the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee.

The chairman of the Democratic convention, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, has been an adviser to another 527 group, the New Democrat Network. And Jim Jordan, a spokesman for the Media Fund, was Mr. Kerry’s campaign manager until he resigned in November.

Mr. Ginsberg said he decided to help Republican groups after the Federal Election Commission declined to imposed strict rules on the 527 groups in May.

"At that point,’’ he said, “I was more than happy to help all Republican groups comply with the law so that there wasn’t unilateral disarmament.”

An occasional collaborator with Mr. Ginsberg, Chris LaCivita, is also working for the group, advising on media strategy. Mr. LaCivita was political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002 and now works for the DCI Group, a Washington political strategy firm whose partners include Charles Francis, a longtime friend of President Bush from Texas and Tom Synhorst, an adviser to the Bush campaign in 2000, who was an architect of the campaign’s effort in the Iowa caucuses.

Mr. LaCivita said yesterday that he worked as a private contractor for DCI and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and that there was no coordination between the firm and the group.

“Obviously, I don’t work for the Bush campaign,” he said.

Mr. LaCivita described his role as providing advice on the news media and placing advertisements. Asked to describe how close his involvement was or how Mr. Ginsberg was involved, Mr. LaCivita referred calls to a spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans, which declined to comment.

Mr. LaCivita and Mr. Ginsberg have also been involved with Progress for America, a group that calls itself the leading organization pushing a conservative agenda. Mr. Ginsberg did not say how frequently he consulted with the group.

This is the second time in recent days that an individual associated with Mr. Bush’s campaign has acknowledged working with Swift Boat Veterans. On Sunday, the campaign confirmed an accusation first made by Mr. Kerry’s campaign that Kenneth Cordier, a retired colonel who appears in the second of two commercials by the group, had been a member of the Bush campaign’s veterans’ advisory committee. The campaign said that it had not known that Mr. Cordier, a volunteer, was going to be in the spot and that he had resigned as a result of it.

Mr. Kerry’s campaign filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission about collaboration between Mr. Bush’s campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans, activities that would violate the laws for the 527’s.

Swift Boat Veterans portrays itself as an organic group opposed to Mr. Kerry. Yesterday, the chairman of the Federal Election Commission defended the group’s right to advertise. But it has gradually acknowledged ties to people close to the Republican Party and Mr. Bush’s campaign.

“It’s another piece of evidence of the ties between the Bush campaign and this group,” Chad Clanton, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said. Asked about his campaign’s use of shared lawyers, Mr. Clanton said, "If the Bush campaign truly disapproved of this smear, their top lawyer wouldn’t be involved.’’

On Monday, the veterans’ group acknowledged that a longtime Republican operative, Susan Arceneaux, was working for it and had taken out the post office box listed as the group’s address. The group described Ms. Arceneaux’s role, also, as “compliance.”

Records also list Ms. Arceneaux as treasurer of the Majority Leader’s Fund, a political action committee affiliated with the former House majority leader, Dick Armey of Texas, which like the Swift Boat Veterans received significant financing from Bob Perry, a Texan who has long supported Mr. Bush.

Mr. Perry has given $200,000 to Swift Boat Veterans. He is listed as co-host on an invitation to a fund-raiser next week at the Tavern on the Green in Manhattan. The invitation list includes President Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove, The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday. Mr. Rove has acknowledged through a spokesman to being friends with Mr. Perry.

One more on this subject, from Univerisity of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse:

Lawyers and the campaign law Catch-22

One strategy to make the Swift Boat controversy go away might be to refocus on a topic so eye-glazingly tedious that people will prefer to talk about anything else. That topic is lawyers and the requirements of campaign finance law. Here’s the front-page story in today’s NYT about the travails of a lawyer–Benjamin L. Ginsberg–who specializes in helping people comply with the complicated campaign finance law. Is campaign finance law a Catch-22, where it’s so complicated you need a specialist lawyer to avoid violating it, but if you go to the specialist, he will then be a hub that connects you to other people who are trying to comply with the complicated law, and that in itself will be the violation of the law?

According to the NYT, Ginsburg has a counterpart, Robert Bauer, who advises the Kerry campaign as well as groups that are not supposed to coordinate with the campaign. Both sides need to get technical legal advice to attempt to comply with the law, so shouldn’t both sides avoid calling foul over every line that can be traced from a 527 group to the candidate’s campaign through through a lawyer who specializes in campaign law compliance? The law requires that there be no coordination between the campaign and the 527 group. I’m no specialist in this area of law, but to “coordinate” means “[t]o work together harmoniously.” We shouldn’t be so ready to call every connection coordination unless the real goal is to deter the independent groups from operating at all. Of course, President Bush has openly embraced that goal–which I think contravenes free speech principles–and Ginsburg himself, as the article describes, was involved in using a strong interpretation of campaign law to control the 527s that were working against Bush. Poor Ginsburg looks hypocritical now that the pro-Bush 527s are finally kicking into gear. But I don’t see how the pro-Kerry forces can complain about Ginsburg when they have Bauer.

I think a terribly complicated problem has emerged here, as everyone tries to win political advantage and everyone takes every opportunity to exploit the campaign law to his advantage. The campaign now threatens to devolve into a dispute about lawyers and legalistic matters. That’s likely to turn everybody off.

posted by Ann Althouse at 9:18 AM

Interesting development re: 527s – Looks as if the funding for these types of groups is going to start to balance between pro-Bush and pro-Kerry orgs:

Republicans Tap Rich Donors
To Form Group Targeting Kerry

By JEANNE CUMMINGS
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
August 25, 2004; Page A1

A political group recently formed by backers of President Bush has amassed a treasure chest of $35 million and plans a barrage of commercials criticizing Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry, even though the president this week denounced such outside organizations for running negative campaign ads.

The Progress for America Voter Fund was launched in May after the Federal Election Commission refused to shut down a crop of well-funded liberal organizations that were going after the president. Those groups, known as 527s, had formed quickly and begun raising large sums in the wake of new campaign laws, gaining a substantial edge on Republicans. Now, in an election already steamrolling fund-raising records, the new Republican group’s deep pockets – matching those of some of the big Democratic groups – seem sure to set up an intense, and highly partisan, big-money battle on airwaves this fall.

The money spent by the groups will be on top of the $75 million in taxpayer money that will be available to each of the campaigns – which are unlikely to apply serious pressure to shutter the groups, even if they decry some of their messages.

Among the backers of Progress For America are Alex G. Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers football team, and Dawn Arnall, wife of the chairman of Ameriquest Capital Corp., a mortgage-financing company. Each has donated $5 million in personal funds. Both rank among the president’s top donors and have been granted “Ranger” status by raising at least $200,000 for Mr. Bush’s campaign.

Other supporters of the group include Boone Pickens, president of Pickens Capital LLC; Carl H. Lindner Jr., chairman of American Financial Group; and Jerry Perenchio, chief executive of Univision Communications Inc., the Spanish-language television company.

Besides Progress For America, another conservative group, backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is expected to make its voice heard this fall. Yesterday, a new business-backed group called the November Fund announced its formation and said it planned to attack Sen. Kerry and vice-presidential pick Sen. John Edwards on what it said was their record of opposing litigation reform.

The emergence of the new organizations coincides with a roiling controversy over a Vietnam veterans group’s ad challenging Sen. Kerry’s valor during the war and claiming he was illegitimately awarded some of his combat medals. The Kerry campaign says the Bush camp is illegally coordinating the attack ads. The Bush team denies that, but yesterday a Bush-Cheney campaign lawyer added fuel to the fight by telling the Associated Press he’s been advising the veterans group on legal matters. Asked about the ad on Monday, President Bush said he believes Sen. Kerry served honorably and should be “proud” of his record, though he did not specifically condemn the ad or address its charges. He went on to renew a call for an end to all advertising by outside groups.

Until recently, Republican operatives had been outflanked by Democratic activists in raising money from wealthy individuals and special-interest groups for the new, unregulated organizations, which were a byproduct of the campaign-finance overhaul of 2002. Called 527s after the section of the tax code that governs them, they are required to operate independently of campaigns.

As of June, the major Democratic political groups, such as MoveOn.org and the Media Fund, had raised more than $70 million, according to disclosure reports, compared with about $8 million reported by major Republican political groups. That money had allowed Democratic groups to get a head-start in blitzing the media with ads, in large part because of seed money from wealthy individuals such as hedge-fund billionaire George Soros. Republicans focused their early efforts on shutting those groups down, but in May the FEC decided not to impose new rules in this election cycle.

At the time, the Bush-Cheney campaign issued a statement saying the FEC’s decision gave a “green light” to such activity. Yesterday, Scott Stanzel, a campaign spokesman, reiterated that message, saying the commissioners “chose to delay their decision, so they created an election free-for-all.”

As a result, backers of the president now are mounting their own aggressive offensive. “Progress For America was prepared to stay on the sidelines, and we did not initiate our efforts until the FEC ruled that they were not going to regulate 527 organizations,” says Brian McCabe, the group’s president. “In light of the level of spending by groups on the other side, we need to stay fully engaged.”

Progress for America plans to begin airing ads today in two battleground states, Wisconsin and Iowa, says Mr. McCabe. The ads question whether Sen. Kerry would have adequately handled the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

One of the commercials opens with the smoky ruins of the Twin Towers and moves to several pictures of Mr. Bush with New York firefighters and other rescue workers. A narrator praises Mr. Bush’s leadership, and asks: “But what if Bush wasn’t there? Could John Kerry have shown this leadership?” Then the ad ticks off votes by Sen. Kerry that it portrays as being against intelligence and Defense Department budgets.

New commercials are expected to be unveiled in Missouri, Minnesota and Ohio after next week’s Republican convention, and “we will be staying up in those states from now until November,” says Mr. McCabe. Progress For America has scheduled a two-week run for the commercials, costing about $1.9 million.

Mr. McCabe, who has been crisscrossing the country in search of dollars, plans to set up a suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York next week during the convention to meet with other potential contributors.

To ease donor concerns about over-the-top ads, he says, he brings along copies of his groups’ commercials, which already have aired in Nevada and New Mexico, as well as a lawyer to explain the new campaign-finance rules.

With the two sides now more evenly matched, the campaigns will be able to take the high road with positive ads, leaving the dirty work to the independent groups. But if the groups’ ads are too negative, voters still might blame the candidate, not making the distinction between official campaign ads and those produced by 527s. The groups also risk damaging their own reputations. For instance, when MoveOn.org featured an anti-Bush ad that included a picture of Adolf Hitler, they drew criticism even from Sen. Kerry.

The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth commercials are just the latest in a string of edgy and negative ads that have been unleashed since the campaign heated up last fall. That was when MoveOn.org began running ads criticizing Mr. Bush for the Iraq war.

The Media Fund began its commercial attacks in the spring, countering an extended $80 million barrage of ads unleashed by the Bush campaign against the then-underfunded Kerry camp. Between the two groups, the Bush White House weathered about $50 million in ads criticizing its handling of everything from the Iraq war to the economy and education reform.

A handful of smaller Republican groups were running anti-Kerry ads during the same period, but none had the impact of the veterans group’s recent commercial, which accused Sen. Kerry of not telling the truth about his record and seems to have reversed a gain in support from veterans that the Democrat won by highlighting his war record during his convention. The Kerry campaign has accused its antagonists of lying about his record and this week began producing other veterans who verified his accounts.

Write to Jeanne Cummings at jeanne.cummings@wsj.com

Thanks for the update tme! But if you are looking for work…I don’t have any openings. :slight_smile: