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Coming attractions: the "shadow GOP"

Republican Party leaders are attempting the difficult maneuver of reversing themselves 180 degrees on the use of 527 soft-money groups in an effort to convince skeptical GOP lobbyists, lawyers, donors and other party allies to build a network to rival the fundraising structure known as the "Shadow Democratic Party."

Ironically, one of the biggest obstacles party leaders face is their own effort for much of this election cycle to declare illegal the fundraising activity of 527s, tax-exempt groups named after the section of the tax code under which they are organized. ...

However, Republican leaders began switching to Plan B an effort to encourage conservatives to replicate the liberal soft-money network even before the FEC voted late last week not to implement any regulations on 527s for this election year.

Ken Mehlman, the manager of the Bush-Cheney campaign, told a group of approximately 20 lobbyists at a private breakfast meeting May 11 that if the FEC failed to regulate 527s, Republican soft-money groups would immediately emerge and launch an ambitious soft-money fundraising drive to catch up with Democrats. -- GOP leaders reverse field, build a new 527 network=The Hill.com=