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  • Activists' funds worrying GOP in '04 elections

    Soon after Richard A. Clarke appeared on CBS's ``60 Minutes'' to say the Bush administration had fumbled its war on terror, the e-mail boxes at MoveOn began to fill up with forwarded transcripts of the show.


    Members of the online activist organization thought the damning comments from a former counterterrorism chief who served under four presidents would make a good anti-Bush TV ad. This week it will appear on CNN, backed with $300,000 the group raised in a matter of hours.


    The ability to mount such a lightning-fast response has made MoveOn, started by a Berkeley couple in 1998 to defend then-President Clinton during impeachment, a formidable player in this year's presidential contest. MoveOn's fundraising tactics have also made it a target for Republicans who say a MoveOn entity is using the tax code to skirt campaign-finance law and take huge, unregulated donations that were banned by the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law.

    Wes Boyd, who co-founded the group with his wife, Joan Blades, compares his staff of nine, who work from their homes in Berkeley, Washington and New York, to a non-partisan David confronting a Republican Goliath. Boyd insists that MoveOn, despite a barrage of anti-Bush commercials, is seeking the political middle ground and steering clear of the tit-for-tat of negative campaigning.

    ``We can't just keep fighting this silly war,'' Boyd said during an interview at his home in North Berkeley. ``We try to rise above the partisanship.'' Before becoming activists, the couple founded Berkeley Systems, which became famous for its flying-toasters screen saver.



    GOP objections

    Republicans scoff at Boyd's claim that his group is not partisan. They see MoveOn's 2.1 million members, who have donated $15 million in the last year, as thinly-disguised minions of the presumed democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry.

    ``They are John Kerry's secret slush fund,'' said Yier Shi, Western press secretary for the Republican National Committee. ``They have spent over $3.5 million attacking the president and they have indicated that they are coordinating with the campaign.''

    MoveOn denies it is in cahoots with the Kerry campaign, which would be a violation of federal election law. But it is part of a cluster of Democrat-affiliated groups, including the Media Fund, that are trying to help Kerry beat back President Bush's enormous fundraising advantage.

    Republicans say the groups amount to a shadow party that has formed for the sole purpose of evading campaign-finance restrictions, a charge that has been taken up by some neutral campaign-finance watchdogs as well. MoveOn and the Media Fund have been advertising in the same 17 swing states as the Kerry campaign.

    MoveOn is different from the other groups in that it gets most of its money through small donations. MoveOn is actually three separate entities that share the same e-mail membership.

    One, MoveOn.org, is a non-profit group like the Sierra Club. Another is MoveOn PAC, a political-action committee that can take only regulated or ``hard money'' but can be more directly partisan.

    The third entity is the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a so-called 527, named for the section of the tax code that allows groups to take large, unregulated donations -- or ``soft money'' -- to influence federal elections as long they act independently of the candidates. The Democratic 527s were formed to take large contributions from unions and individuals that can no longer go to the party.



    The Voter Fund has accepted $5 million from two super-wealthy Democratic donors, financier George Soros and insurance magnate Peter Lewis.

    Even non-partisan critics say the Democratic groups, including MoveOn's Voter Fund, should not be using unrestricted donations to influence federal elections. Republicans are trying to stop it.

    Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who sponsored last year's tough campaign-finance reform law, says the practice is illegal. The Federal Election Commission has been asked to decide the issue, but a ruling is not expected until May or June, by which time Democrats will have spent most of their money.

    Others say the dispute is politically motivated.

    The Bush campaign has also filed a complaint with the FEC against the Media Fund, which is raising money for anti-Bush ads and is run by Harold Ickes, Clinton's former deputy White House Counsel.


    Free speech

    Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that if the groups are acting independently of candidates, restricting their fundraising might be a violation of free speech.

    ``Under existing Supreme Court precedent, I think there is a very good argument that if these groups are independent, they cannot be regulated,'' he said.

    Hasen said it was hypocritical of Republicans to complain, given their long opposition to campaign-finance reform. The RNC, for example, tried to overturn the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law, arguing that its soft-money restrictions were unconstitutional.

    MoveOn's lawyer, Joe Sandler, said the Republican demands would ultimately end up muzzling hundreds of non-profit groups, including the Sierra Club.

    Boyd said the Republicans are trying to intimidate his group by accusing it of violating campaign-finance law. ``Outrageous charges seem to be part of the game,'' he said.

    MoveOn's new ad featuring Clarke will avoid the fundraising controversy because it will be funded by MoveOn's political-action committee, which uses only hard money subject to donation limits. Earlier ads were paid for through its 527, the MoveOn Voter Fund.

    Bill Zimmerman, who produces MoveOn's ads, said the new ad had to be paid for by the political-action committee, because the ad refers to one of Bush's own campaign spots. He said the 527 would continue to run more ads throughout the campaign.

    ``It falls within the area of direct electioneering,'' Zimmerman wrote in an e-mail. ``That is supposed to be the bright line separating 527s from PACs, and we are trying to conform to it.''
    "They misunderestimated me."
    Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000


    "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


    "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign."
    -Hilton Head, S.C., Feb. 16, 2000

    Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

  • #2
    Good.

    I desperately want this election to be about terrorism - first and foremost.
    And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

    -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Damtoft@Apr 3 2004, 09:29 AM
      Good.

      I desperately want this election to be about terrorism - first and foremost.
      Me too. Because no matter how you try to spin it, 9/11 happened on Bush's watch. You can try to blame Clinton and every other Democrat all you like but in the end, GWB was President at the time. The American people for the most part are sheep. If they get that pounded in their heads enough between now and November they will start to believe it.
      "They misunderestimated me."
      Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000


      "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


      "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign."
      -Hilton Head, S.C., Feb. 16, 2000

      Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

      Comment


      • #4
        Keep thinking that way.

        And keep bringing up the comparisons of Bush and Kerry on terrorism.

        Please.
        And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

        -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

        Comment


        • #5
          The thing about moveon, etc, is they have been pretty much attacking Bush without plugging Kerry. That to me seems like free speech. I guess what I am saying is I don't see much of a distinction between that and between say Rush Limbaugh (minus the distortions, of course).
          Dude. Can. Fly.

          Comment


          • #6
            The distortions are there also.

            You're just more sympathetic to theirs.
            And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

            -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by matt75+Apr 3 2004, 09:43 AM-->
              QUOTE (matt75 @ Apr 3 2004, 09:43 AM)

            • #8
              Originally posted by Damtoft@Apr 3 2004, 12:36 PM
              The distortions are there also.

              You're just more sympathetic to theirs.
              If we are ranking distortions, JD, come on. But I agree. I take everything with a grain of salt.
              Dude. Can. Fly.

              Comment


              • #9
                That's why there's still hope for you.
                And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                Comment


                • #10
                  I wonder if it would be better to have the primaries in July and August, the conventions in September, and hope for a 6 week campaign leading up to November. Money will find a way----but less time would require less money---could be a constaint on how much gets spent. Don't know if it would cause focus on more important issues, instead of getting bogged down with frivolity. Of course, maybe the presidential campaign doesn't last long enough already, even with Iowa and New Hampshire so early in the year.
                  v


                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by TTB+Apr 3 2004, 12:40 PM-->
                    QUOTE (TTB @ Apr 3 2004, 12:40 PM)
                    Originally posted by [email protected] 3 2004, 09:43 AM

                  • #12
                    In other words, you think the American people are stupid.

                    Care to elaborate?
                    And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                    -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by Damtoft@Apr 4 2004, 09:53 AM
                      In other words, you think the American people are stupid.

                      Care to elaborate?
                      The overwhelming majority of swing voters in America, not those of us who lean to one side or the other, vote for two reasons. Either for the health of their bank accounts or because one candidate more effectively marketed himself to them. Do you disagree with this? And yes, when it comes to politics and making an informed decision on their leaders, Americans are very, very stupid overall.
                      "They misunderestimated me."
                      Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000


                      "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


                      "If you're sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign."
                      -Hilton Head, S.C., Feb. 16, 2000

                      Gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        I think American voters are actually quite savvy.

                        They get it right most of the time when given the straight facts.

                        They also realize how much their "vote" means in the large scheme of things. That's why they stay home in such large numbers.
                        And, frankly, it has never occured to me that "winning" a debate is important, or that I should be hurt when someone like Airshark or kah, among others (for whom winning a pseudo debate or declaring intellectual superiority over invisible others is obviously very important) ridicule me.

                        -The Artist formerly known as King in KC

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Damtoft@Apr 4 2004, 10:53 AM
                          I think American voters are actually quite savvy.
                          Is that why most voters voted against Bush in 2000?

                          Your chestnut of "In other words, you think the American people are stupid" is nonsense. Members of each side see the other side's voters as stupid. You're just as guilty of that as anyone when you blame Black voters for voting Democratic.
                          2005 Mandatory Loyalty Oath: I love America, our troops, baseball, Moms, and certain pies. I want no harm to come to any of those institutions, nor do I take any glee in their demise.

                          Comment

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