Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Soros-backed group fined

People are making more out of this than really should be, but it's nice to see that the FEC is still pursuing complaints from 2004. From Ken Vogel at the Politico:

The Federal Election Commission has fined one of the last cycle’s biggest liberal political action committees $775,000 for using unregulated soft money to boost John Kerry and other Democratic candidates during the 2004 elections.

America Coming Together (ACT) raised $137 million for its get-out-the-vote effort in 2004, but the FEC found most of that cash came through contributions that violated federal limits. The group’s big donors included George Soros, Progressive Corp. chairman Peter Lewis and the Service Employees International Union.

The settlement, which the FEC approved unanimously, is the third largest enforcement penalty in the commission’s 33-year history. ACT, which ceased operations in 2005, was formed in late 2003 and rapidly deployed an enormous organization to do the retail-level grunt work of politics.

It opened more than 90 offices in 17 states from which it mobilized an army of more than 25,000 paid canvassers and volunteers to knock on doors, stuff envelopes and make phone calls urging voters to defeat President Bush and support Democratic or “progressive” candidates including Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate.

The FEC dismissed allegations that that Kerry’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee violated campaign laws by coordinating with ACT or accepting excessive contributions from the group.

ACT was among a new breed of political committee, known as 527 groups, that stretched campaign finance rules on their way to shaping the 2004 elections. Operatives used the 527s, named for the section of the IRS code under which they were registered, to spend money on politics outside the FEC’s purview.

But the groups have largely faded from the political landscape as the FEC has sought to rein them in. Late last year, commissioners handed down a total of $630,000 in penalties to three top 527s: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, MoveOn.org and the League of Conservation Voters, and there are more complaints pending.

But the heads of two of the non-profit campaign finance reform groups behind many of the complaints, including the one that led to the ACT penalty, say it’s all too little, too late. “This action comes more than three years after our FEC complaints were filed and nearly three years after the 2004 presidential election was held,” read a statement from Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, and Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center.

Plus, they argued, the fine “represents only a tiny fraction” of the amount ACT spent illegally on the 2004 elections.

Wertheimer also is involved in a lawsuit to compel the FEC to pass a set of comprehensive rules regulating 527s, without which he said the groups are likely to reemerge in the 2008 campaign.

They get fined over $600, 000 for illegally spending over $137 million. WTF? This is a slap on the wrist, and an insult to the voters, in general. Of course had it not been for John McCain and Russ Feingold screwing around with the campaign finance laws in the first place, the 527s never would have been created in the first place.

Elections are one of the most natural exercises in free speech that the world has ever seen, and we're amongst the best in executing them. Contributing to candidates, buying ad time during the election cycle, and pounding the pavement for a candidate all fall within freedom of speech. The very idea of the right lay within the confines of political speech -- the ability to disagree with a candidate, or the government itself without fear of reprisal.

We agree that the FEC needs to have a set of regulations or guidelines for campaign finance. After all, the last thing we need is a creep like Soros basically buying whatever candidate he wants, and backing them up with the gobs of money the man has. But the finance laws need to be revised -- this time better than the half-assed attempt by Feingold and McCain -- and their review and investigation process must be streamlined. This story will gain no traction at all for two reasons:

The inherently biased MSM won't go after it because it draws attention to a man they consider an ally with beliefs that closely reflect their own, in addition to going after groups they probably agreed with in 2004.

Secondly, this all happened in 2004. The chances anyone will make a ruckus over this, or even remember it (I'm talking about the average guy or girl, not us nutty political junkies) is highly unlikely.

Furthermore, it's not going to hit Soros at all. So who really cares about this? We do. We do because maybe, just maybe, someone will take note of this in the government, and correct the mistakes that occurred at the hands of a few "mavericks."

Publius II


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