Wednesday, June 29, 2005

House Advances Limits on 527s

Voting 5-3, the House Administration Committee today advanced a bill sponsored by Reps. Chris Shays and Marty Meehan that would "place tax-exempt partisan groups [commonly known as 527 organizations] under the same fundraising and spending limits that apply to political action committees," says an AP report. The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as July.

Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer said in a statement "We strongly support the Shays-Meehan bill as the means for closing the soft money loophole for 527 groups and urge the House to pass it as a completely separate bill." There was some concern that the Shays-Meehan bill might be lumped with another, sham, reform bill that would undo some provisions of McCain-Feingold, but that version (known as Pence-Wynn) will also be debated on its own merits (or lack thereof).

Today's action is a good step forward for the 527 legislation, and I hope it gets a fair hearing in the House and a positive vote. Stay tuned for more developments.


At 8:39 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

You know, Dean Esmay (who is as smart as he is obstinate) considers McCain-Feingold the most oppressive legislation in years and the primary reason why partisanship is taking over. His reasoning is that, under the laws, it's very, very hard for challengers to raise the money needed to run a campaign but incumbents have all kinds of donor resources. He also feels that it's impossible to cut off the quid pro quo money--it always finds a way in, so why infringe on free speech in an attempt to stop it?

Joe and I have written absolutely nothing about campaign finance reform over at The Yellow Line because we both are concerned that the current kinds of laws aren't working and just needlessly squelching free speech. Nevertheless, we aren't comfortable advocating an unregulated system. One thing we've talked about is perhaps capping the amount that can be spent on given elections but letting people give as much as they want. I dunno. It's actually a complicated issue.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger "A Brown" said...

It’s not just a theory that McCain-Feingold protects incumbents. Without better funding it is nearly impossible for a challenger to win. The problem is that McCain-Feingold was attempting to fix the wrong problem. In any system of privately funded campaigns candidates will always be somewhat beholden to big donors. Before McCain-Feingold, the big donors were individuals who could write large soft money checks. Post McCain-Feingold, candidates are beholden to those who can effectively shake the troops’ wallets (see the Pioneers’ network of corporate titans or’s legion of urban professionals). Last year was the first post-reform national election and it accomplished the near impossible: both Presidential candidates raised more money then they could spend on the campaign. As long as campaigns are privately financed, the key to honesty will be the openness and availability of the big donors’ identities. Instead of increasing accountability, McCain-Feingold futilely attempts to stem the tide of money. Any serious attempt to limit money in campaigns would consist of a comprehensive system of free media and public money. Though again, any attempts to limit spending will increase incumbent retention, which will in turn increase partisanship.


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