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FEC did/did not clamp down on 527's

The ledes in two of America's leading papers would lead their readers in different interpretations.

The Federal Election Commission said on Wednesday that advocacy groups that were established to get around fund-raising restrictions in the new campaign finance law could continue to spend unlimited contributions for television commercials and other communications, though they must do so under far more restrictive rules.

The commission's ruling on so-called 527 committees could have profound effects on the 2004 election by helping Democrats, who have been much more aggressive than Republicans in creating these committees to help the party compete with the Republicans' overall 2-to-1 fund-raising advantage. None of this money winds up in the candidates' hands but it can be used to raise issues and attack or promote candidates by name. -- Advocacy Groups Allowed to Raise Unlimited Funds (New York Times)

The Federal Election Commission decided yesterday that many of the political committees raising "soft" money to campaign against President Bush are subject to regulation, but it postponed deciding how tough the restrictions should be.

The FEC voted 4 to 2 to warn Americans for a Better Country that activities that "promote, attack, support or oppose" a federal candidate must be paid for with hard money, a type of political donation that, unlike soft money, has tight restrictions on sources and amounts. This is a broader standard than used in the past. Activities that benefit a mix of federal, state and local candidates are to be paid for with a mix of hard and soft money, the commission determined. -- FEC Moves to Regulate Groups Opposing Bush (Thomas Edsall, Washington Post)