Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Congress: 527s Seek to Influence Elections

this is an audio post - click to play

Of course, anyone this side of Neptune could have figured that out after the 2004 presidential election. Regardless, Sharon Theimer's report for the Associated Press that Senator Trent Lott is joining Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold in calling for 527 groups to be regulated like political action committees (PACs) comes as welcome news to the rest of us.

The bad news is that individuals can still give $5,000 to PACs, which is more than nearly all of us can afford, giving wealthy folks an unfair advantage.

For those who were vacationing on Pluto, 527 committees poured hundreds of millions of dollars into federal races last year thanks to poor drafting of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act by Congress and weak-kneed enforcement (if it can be called that) by the federal government's top watchdog agency/sheep, the Federal Elections Commission.

According to Senator McCain, President Bush has signalled his intention to back the efforts to Deepsix the 527 Loophole, which may bode well. Although, considering the last "reform" that went through Congress, which doubled contribution limits to $2,000 and led to even greater fatcat influence over elections, it is in the interest of those who care about democratic principles to keep an eye on the effort.

Coming tomorrow, contingent upon it actually happening, TheRestofUs.org will be live-blogging California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley's testimony before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. (Check out Dion Nissenbaum's story in the San Jose Mercury News to find out how and why legislative leaders are in engaged in some backroom discussions about whether to postpone the hearing.)

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