Thursday, May 13, 2004

Joint Statement by Bush-Cheney Campaign Chairman Marc Racicot and RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie on Today’s FEC Ruling on 527 Groups


Contact: Christine Iverson

“The FEC’s decision today to do nothing to stop the massive spending of soft money “527” committees to influence the 2004 elections is unfortunate, but provides clarity.

“It has always been clear to us that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) and its subsequent affirmation by the Supreme Court would limit the role of political parties in the political process and allow special interest “527” groups to proliferate. We had always assumed however, that the provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act that have existed since the 1970’s and were not changed by BCRA would require the 527s to follow the basic tenets underlying federal campaign finance law.

“We erroneously thought “527” groups would be regulated by their status and their activities. We expected that when one of these “527” groups raised and spent more than $1,000 for the specific purpose of defeating or electing federal candidates such as President Bush or John Kerry, that particular “527” group would fall under the Federal Election Commission’s umbrella as a federal political committee. In other words, the “527” would have to spend and raise federally regulated money, “hard dollars.” No corporate money could be raised nor spent and individual contributions would be limited to $5,000 per year.

“Today’s decision to delay addressing fundamental questions regarding the regulation of “527’s” is irresponsible. It also sets the stage for a total meltdown of federal campaign finance regulation in 2004 - the first election after BCRA supposedly banned soft money from influencing federal candidates and elections.

“The Commission by its own action, or more precisely inaction, today has given the “green light” to all non-federal “527’s” to forge full steam ahead in their efforts to affect the outcome of this year’s Federal elections and, in particular, the presidential race.

“Conservative groups now have the go-ahead they were waiting for as the commission has now made clear that these “527”groups will not be affected by the federal campaign finance rules, at least in 2004.

“As FEC Commissioner Michael Toner said, “Delaying a decision is making a decision-namely, that we are not going to issue any regulations for the 2004 elections. We are going to see a new ‘soft money’ arms race for the 2004 election.” (Delay Urged for FEC Action on Pro-Democratic Groups, Washington Post, 5/12/04)

“Look at the blatant anti-President Bush and pro-Kerry activity by, The Media Fund, ACT and others. Add in their uninhibited coordination with agents of the Kerry campaign and the Democratic Party at the national and state levels. Remember that all of this information was known to the FEC during its “527” rulemaking deliberations.

“By today’s action, the FEC has sanctioned the activities of these groups. Its decision sends a very clear signal to the political community -- let the “527” battle begin.

“The 2004 elections will now be a free-for-all. Thanks to the deliberate inaction by the Federal Election Commission, the battle of the 527’s is likely to escalate to a full scale, two-sided war.

“Groups like the Leadership Forum, Progress for America, The Republican Governor’s Association, GOPAC and others now know that they can legally engage in the same way Democrat leaning groups like ACT, the Media Fund, MoveOn and Moving America Forward have been engaging.

“Now that the Commission has spoken, or not spoken, it is all but certain that those groups that would like to see the President re-elected and the U.S. House and Senate remain in Republican control will begin raising and spending money in the same manner as those groups that would like to see the President defeated and the U.S. House and Senate in Democratic control have already been doing. Thanks to the Federal Election Commission, the “527” battle will now rage unabated through Election Day.”