Friday, June 20, 2008

MoveOn shuts down § 527 arm

In a shocking decision, the left-wing group is today killing its § 527 fundraising arm, which became extremely controversial during the 2004 campaign when it raised millions in "soft money" to support John Kerry by circumventing regular spending and fundraising rules. Instead, MoveOn will ask people to donate to its political action committee or PAC. The effect is that rather than donations at $5000 a pop, it will have to rely on advocacy at only $50 or so per donation.

Why is this important? Because Barack Obama proved one can win a nomination, and potentially an election outright, by relying on smaller donations and not on the largesse of the powerful. Running a third party campaign with money from unions and progressive businesses would have run counter to the message Obama has run on, that this should be a people's campaign and not just one for those who have "access" or the means to buy it. And under § 527 of the US Tax Code, such foundations don't have to reveal where their money comes from, unlike charities and churches which elect to run under § 501(c)(3). Non-disclosure also goes against the spirit of Obama's official campaign.

In my opinion the 527s while serving an important purpose defeat it by hiding behind a wall. They had too much influence over the Bush - Kerry race four years ago and it's time this relic was shown the door it deserves.

The challenge to equivalent 527s on the right: Will they do the same and pack up too? Now that's something I like to see. McCain said he can't control negative advertising. Disavowing these secretive organizations outright would be a first step.

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