The House narrowly passed campaign finance restrictions on 527 non-profit groups, which can currently accept unlimited donations from individuals, according to the Washington Post. 527 groups became a powerful force on the Democratic side in the 2004 election in the wake of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform’s restrictions on giving to campaigns committees and political action committees. Billionaire donor George Soros donated $27 million to Democratic 527 groups during the 2004 election cycle setting an all-time record for individual giving. Republicans also benefited from Robert Perry, a Texas homebuilder, pumping $4.5 million into the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Republicans turned Soros into a bogeyman and have aimed to curb Democratic spending by limiting contributions to these 527 groups since the election. Seven Democrats sided with the Republicans while 18 Republicans, mostly from the conservative Republican Study Group, sided with the Democrats. The Post notes the contradictory behavior by both sides in the debate,
Republicans, who had adamantly opposed the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, called for expansion of the measure’s ban on soft money to cover the 527 committees. The House bill would limit to $5,000 a year the amount an individual could give to a 527 committee active in federal elections and $25,000 to a committee engaging in partisan voter registration. It would prohibit all corporate and union contributions.
Organizations such as Common Cause, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, past legislative adversaries of the GOP, were allied with Republicans in yesterday’s floor fight. Democrats had the backing of a long list of conservative leaders opposed to regulation, including Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Paul M. Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation.
Bloomberg notes that the bill stands a test in the Senate as Democrats may filibuster. The legislation would also allow “political parties to spend unlimited amounts in coordinated efforts to support their candidates for federal offices. Republican Party committees had $76 million in the bank as of Feb. 28, and Democratic committees had $53 million.”