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April 06, 2006

House Votes To Cap 527 Groups' Campaign Spending, The Democrats' Cash Cow

Expect a filibuster in the Senate; virtually unlimited spending by George Soros and the like is too important to the Democrats.

The House approved campaign finance legislation last night that would benefit Republicans by placing strict caps on contributions to nonprofit committees that spent heavily in the last election while removing limits on political parties' spending coordinated with candidates.

The bill passed 218 to 209 in a virtual party-line vote.

Lifting party spending limits would aid Republican candidates because the GOP has consistently raised far more money than the Democratic Party. Similarly, barring "527" committees from accepting large unregulated contributions known as "soft money" would disadvantage Democrats, whose candidates received a disproportionate share of the $424 million spent by nonprofit committees in 2003-2004.

The 527 committees, named for a section of the tax law, are tax-exempt organizations that use voter mobilization and issue-based ads to influence federal elections. They grew in importance after the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law barred federal candidates and national parties from accepting unlimited donations from individuals, unions and corporations.

In 2003-2004, for example, international financier George Soros broke all contribution records by giving a total of $27 million to pro-Democratic groups such as America Coming Together and the Media Fund.

Although the measure's prospects for approval in the Senate are considered slim, House Republicans wanted a vote on what they could describe as "reform" legislation. At the same time, GOP leaders sought to embarrass Democrats by making them vote in apparent support of the use of soft money in federal campaigns.

If McCain was such a bear to get soft money, supposedly corrupting, out of the system, why did he allow this loophole? No one is surprised this became a bonanza for soft-money spending; it was predicted months before the measure actually passed (and people like Harold Ickes were already preparing to set up 527's for just this purpose before passage).

McCain, the straight-talker, seems to have permitted this just to get Democratic votes, so he could have on his record a law that purported to stop exorbitant soft-money campaign spendings, but which actually did nothing of the kind.

I'm not in favor of campaign finance limits generally, but McCain supposedly was. So why did he permit this boondoggle? If we're going to have limits, then we should have real limits. If we're not going to have limits -- junk the whole law.


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posted by Ace at 10:15 AM

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