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FEC won't change rules on 527 groups

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission will not adopt new rules governing the independent political groups that played a major role in the 2004 presidential campaign, freeing them to raise and spend unlimited sums of money during this year's midterm elections.

A federal judge had ordered the FEC either to write new rules or more fully explain its current policy for regulating 527 groups. The commission announced on May 31 that it would explain more fully the current policy, which is to deal with 527 groups on a case-by-case basis.

The groups, which are named after the section of the Internal Revenue Service code governing them, include America Coming Together and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. ACT spent millions criticizing President Bush during the 2004 race, while the Swift Boat Veterans spent millions challenging the Vietnam War military record of his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Critics argue that the FEC's decision not to write new rules for 527 organizations has effectively left them unregulated. They note that many complaints against the organizations have been pending before the FEC for more than a year.

The FEC has countered that it would be unwise to issue a broad rule governing diverse groups.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled in March that, "Judging from FECs track record in the 2004 election, case-by-case adjudication appears to have been a total failure."

However, Sullivan did not order new rules. The election commission announced that it would not appeal Sullivan's ruling.

FEC knocked for nonprofits' heavy spending in '04 election
Federal judge sends issue back to agency, orders it to 'articulate its reasoning,' or come up with a rule for 527 groups 'if necessary.' 03.31.06


Proposed FEC rules leave most political activity on Net unregulated

But federal candidates' online ads would have to be paid for with money regulated by federal campaign law. 03.27.06

House OKs cap on contributions to 527s
Outcome is sharp turnaround from 2002, when Republicans resisted successful Democratic-led legislation to limit campaign spending. 04.06.06

Congressmen sue FEC, seek tougher campaign-finance rules
Christopher Shays, Martin Meehan take issue with agency regulations that govern when candidates, independent groups can coordinate their political messages. 07.14.06

'527' groups agree to pay campaign fines
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Voter Fund reach deal with FEC totaling nearly $450,000 for various 2004 election violations. 12.17.06

Federal judge: FEC can regulate 527 groups on case-by-case basis
Decision comes one day after agency announces settlement with Democratic-leaning group that agreed to pay $775,000 for violating campaign-finance laws in 2004. 08.31.07

FEC proposal could lead to court challenge plans to fight agency lawyers' opinion that it cannot accept unlimited contributions from donors if it wants to advocate for or against federal candidates. 01.23.08

=campaign_finance class=chan4 > Campaign finance

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