Political consultants and campaign professionals are still trying to make sense of the biggest change to campaign finance laws in two decades, as Congress has decided to shine some light on so-called ’527’ groups.
Political consultants and campaign professionals are still trying
to make sense of the biggest change to campaign finance laws in two
decades, as Congress has decided to shine some light on so-called ’527’
The secretive, tax-exempt organizations will now have to register with
the Internal Revenue Service and report their sources for donations
above dollars 200 a year or expenses exceeding dollars 500 annually.
The new law, which overwhelmingly passed both houses of Congress and was
signed by the president on July 1, will give the public more information
about big contributors behind such groups as ’Citizens for Better
Medicare’ and ’Republicans for Clean Air.’
But there is a real fear that 527s, so named for their placement in the
Internal Revenue Code, will morph into other tax-exempt groups with more
restrictions, or for-profit companies. In other words, the reform will
have little impact on the elections. ’My hunch tells me it probably
doesn’t affect things all that much,’ observed veteran GOP media
consultant Paul Curcio of Stevens, Reed, Curcio & Company.
The major advantage of 527 groups, which began to pop up with increased
regularity this campaign cycle, is their ability to cloak the identity
of donors who wish to remain anonymous. Curcio thinks the higher risk
posed to skittish donors under the new law may mean that groups run more
direct mail instead of televised issue advertising campaigns.
But campaign finance reform is something of a conflict of interest for
political consultants, who have thrived on the exponentially increasing
issue-advertising and independent-expenditure campaigns by interest
groups in recent years. As the number of these interest groups has
increased, so has business.
Democratic media guru Jim Margolis of Greer, Margolis, Mitchell, Burns &
Associates agrees that the new reform will cut both ways for political
consultants. Margolis’ firm is in charge of creating issue ads for the
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, among other prominent
But he says there is a real appetite for changing campaign finance laws
among political professionals. ’I think a lot of us are concerned about
the whole area of issue advertising - that this is really becoming
another tool bag of campaign activities rather than just focusing on the
issue itself,’ Margolis said. ’At the same time, this is the world we
live in and the rules under which we’re playing, and everyone’s trying
to maximize their advantage.’
The world may be a little bit different with the new laws governing
527s, but just how much remains to be seen