April 23, 2004
Remember the number
By Bill Kraus
A 527 is a charitable organization that plays politics. It is also a major loophole in the reforms that were embodied in the McCain-Feingold bill.
McCain and Feingold and most organizations that would like to limit the impact of money on elections want to close the loophole. The 527s, of every persuasion, say that any such limitation is an assault on free speech.
It is a little more complicated than that.
What the 527 loophole allows is people with money and a point of view to enter the rule-ridden world of campaign activity. With a difference. There are rules that govern the candidates and the parties. The contributions they take are limited in kind and amount, and the names of the people who contribute must be disclosed.
But there are no rules for the 527s. They can say what they want, spend what they want, and raise money without disclosing where it comes from.
It is not about free speech after all. It's about fairness.
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