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Dems winning the 527 money race

Tom Edsall writes today in the Washington Post,

The widely heralded fundraising advantage enjoyed by Republicans could be significantly mitigated by the success of Democratic-leaning "527" committees, according to a study by the Center for Public Integrity.

Known by the section of the tax code under which they fall, 527 committees can accept unlimited donations from corporations, unions and the rich -- just the kind of "soft money" federal candidates and the national parties have been barred from collecting under the McCain-Feingold bill of 2002.

The center's study, which covered the period from August 2000 to August 2003, found that money going to Democratic-leaning groups -- such as unions and environmental and abortion rights groups -- was more than double that going to Republican-affiliated groups, $185 million to $81.6 million, a difference of $103.4 million.

In terms of "hard money" fundraising that remains legal for the parties and candidates, the Republican advantage is clear based on the results from the first six months of this year. In that period, the three major GOP committees -- the Republican National, Senatorial and Congressional committees -- raised $115 million, 21/2 times the $43.5 million raised by their Democratic counterparts. Hard money can be given only by individuals, not corporations or unions, and is limited to $2,000 to federal candidates and $25,000 to a party.