« Alabama Supreme Court considers proposed rules on judicial campaigns | Main | When does the new districting take effect -- if qualifying ends before the DOJ has precleared the district? »

FEC chairman criticizes RNC for no-show

The GOP chairman of the Federal Election Commission gently admonished the Republican National Committee for declining to testify yesterday at a hearing about proposed rules to restrict fundraising and spending by independent political organizations.

Chairman Bradley A. Smith said "it would have been useful" if the RNC had sent a representative to answer citizen complaints that the GOP is "seeking merely to silence criticism of President Bush" by attempting to limit the "527" organizations. "It would have been valuable for the RNC in this forum to put to rest the accusation that theirs is a strategy of short-term political advantage," Smith said.

The RNC initially asked to testify in favor of restricting 527s, but it withdrew its request Friday. Charles R. Spies, the RNC's election law counsel, complained in a letter to the commission that too much of the hearings' focus was on nonprofit groups other than 527s. Spies said the shift in emphasis was a "cynical diversionary tactic" that undercuts the commission's main task: to decide how best to restrict 527s.

The RNC is at the forefront of groups that want the commission to crack down on the activities of 527s, which are new and mostly pro-Democratic organizations named for the section of the tax code that governs them. Spending by these groups has made a large impression on the presidential campaign, and leaders of both parties say that the commission's decisions could affect the race this year between President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). --
RNC Chided for Absence at Hearing On 527 Rule (washingtonpost.com)