Once again, my senator, Russ Feingold, is taking the lead in reigning in the Federal Election Commission concerning campaign fundraising.
This past election saw some of the worst political ads attacking candidates on both sides, but primarily Sen. Kerry (Swift Boat Veterans for Truth). Many 527 organizations skirted the law by claiming to be a “Get Out the Vote”-type organization when, in reality, they were really working on behalf of one candidate or another.
Take the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. These were very thought-provoking ads that made John Kerry seem to be a traitor, a dishonor to veterans, and a flat-out liar. They succeeded. It’s quite unfortunate that they did. From their own site (Swift Vets – About Us):
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth is a tax exempt non-partisan public advocacy “527″ organization that consists of and is limited to former military officers and enlisted men who served in Vietnam on U.S. Navy “Swift Boats” or in affiliated commands, as well as former prisoners of war and their families.
Now I’m not saying that Swift Boat Vets was the only organization that abused 527 laws. Far from it. But they had the loudest voice. Above, in their About Us text, they say that they are a NON-PARTISAN organization, but I doubt anyone that saw those ads can agree with that statement, at least not without their fingers crossed.
Anyway, on to the meat of this post. Sen. Feingold, in a press release February 2nd, had this to say:
…And now we are here to announce the introduction of legislation that will make absolutely clear that the federal election laws apply to 527 organizations. Let me emphasize one thing. We believe that current federal election law requires these groups to register as political committees and stop raising and spending soft money. But the FEC has failed to enforce the law so we must act in the Congress.
Since the Federal Election Commission would not step-up to limit the abuses these organizations committed, Sens. Feingold, McCain, Lott, and Congressmen Shays and Meehan joined together once again to introduce legislation aimed at further clarifying what, exactly, a 527 group can and cannot do with their donations. I, for one, applaud this bill. It’s about time we send a message to organizations such as Swift Vets that their unlimited soft-money days are over.
Read the rest of Sen. Feingold’s Statement on the 527 Reform Act.