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"Shadow campaign groups" cast a long shadow

The Chicago Tribune reports: The Democratic and Republican organizations charged with getting candidates elected to Congress this fall are preparing to wall off parts of their staff and form separate entities, allowing them to pour tens of millions of dollars into individual campaigns, a move that otherwise would be illegal.

The tactic, which both parties also used in the 2004 election, takes advantage of a provision in campaign finance law that allows operationally independent groups, unlike the parties themselves, to spend unlimited amounts on behalf of specific candidates.

But critics say the entities are independent in name only. Their office space is usually no more than a short walk from party headquarters, they get all their cash from the party and are usually run by senior operatives intimately familiar with the party's strategy, priority and tactics. One operative likened them to "shadow campaigns."

"It's the type of distinction that's built on legal technicalities," said Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Maine's Colby College who specializes in campaign finance. "You're basically just taking a piece of the organization and putting up a legal drywall to separate them for four or five months." -- KRT Wire | 04/12/2006 | `Shadow campaigns' put millions into races

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