Thursday, April 15, 2004

Nothing like campaign finance reform

FEC unlikely to act this year on tax-exempt groups:
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators signaled Wednesday that they are unlikely to curb Democratic-allied independent political groups in time to affect this year's presidential election.

Statements from members of the Federal Election Commission at a hearing indicated that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to line up the necessary votes to impose regulations this year on the groups. The Democratic groups plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat President Bush.

The commission is grappling with how to deal with new tax-exempt groups that are fueled mostly by large contributions from wealthy donors. Attention has focused on at least $15 million being donated by billionaire financier George Soros to the groups Voter Fund, America Coming Together and the Media Fund — all dedicated to defeating Bush and helping Democrats.
The FEC mostly never does anything and then only after the election.
Wednesday's developments come just two weeks after the Republican Party indirectly expressed its own doubts that the FEC will act to curb the outside groups.

The party, which wants the FEC to impose new regulations, filed a complaint against the pro-Democratic groups but asked the commission to dismiss it, which would allow the Republican Party to take its complaint directly to court.
I doubt a court is going to do anything either. Predictably, it's time to start up the equivalent Republican groups.

And in related news - Nation's Gun Lobby Creating News Company:
WASHINGTON - The nation's gun lobby is creating an "NRA news" company that will produce a daily talk show for the Internet, buy a radio station and seek a television deal to spread its gun-rights message nationwide.

Looking for the same legal recognition as mainstream news organizations, the National Rifle Association says it has already hired its first reporter, a conservative talk radio host from Oklahoma. plans to start online broadcasts Friday.

The NRA is taking the step to operate free of political spending limits, hoping to use unlimited donations known as soft money to focus on gun issues and candidates' positions despite the law's restrictions on soft money-financed political ads within days of the election.

"If that's the only way to bring back the First Amendment, we're going to bring it back," Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, told The Associated Press. Under the nation's campaign finance law, he said, "if you own the news operation, you can say whatever you want. If you don't, you're gagged."

I hope Senators McCain and Feingold are real proud of their accomplishment.