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Guy Charles argues against FEC regulation of 527 organizations

As the November 2004 election approaches, fundraising by issue-oriented political organizations (known as "527 organizations") will certainly impact the outcome. Groups such as the left-leaning Americans Coming Together, or the right-leaning Progress for America, will doubtless seek to use their funds to place print and television advertising that will give a boost to certain causes -- and, inevitably, certain candidates. They may also spearhead get-out-the-vote efforts to support their respective causes -- and, inevitably, certain candidates.

Currently, campaign finance laws permit such groups to do all of these things -- without regulation as to how much money can be spent. Contributions to particular candidates and parties are capped. But contributions to issue-oriented groups are not.

The result is that wealthy individuals, after they hit the cap on contributions to particular candidates and parties, can just keep on spending. After they max out their contributions to particular candidates, they can give their money, instead, to issue-oriented groups whose efforts are likely to end up helping those very same candidates and parties.

Is this a loophole in the campaign finance laws that should be closed? In the last few weeks, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has increasingly focused on this very issue. Indeed, it is considering setting a $5,000 cap on individual contributions to each 527 organization.

I will argue, however, that imposing such a cap would be a mistake -- and a First Amendment violation even if the FEC believes that it has the authority to impose the cap. -- Charles: Why the Federal Election Commission Should Not Limit Contributions to Political Issue Organizations (FindLaw's Writ)