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April 4, 2006

Pryce Votes for Equity, Accountability
in 527 Organizations

Washington , DC – Today, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) issued the following statement following the House approval of H.R.513, the 527 Reform Act of 2005.  The bill will bring 527’s – political advocacy groups so named because of their tax code designation -- under the regulatory authority of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC):

“In an effort to eliminate soft money from campaigns, the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 unwittingly opened an enormous loophole for soft money through 527s.  Today, 527s are undeniably as political, as active, and as well-funded as any individual candidate committee or political party, and should rightfully be placed under the same rules governing traditional political organizations.

“I will defend to the hilt anyone’s right to political free speech, and consider political speech the most cherished and important of our first amendment freedoms.  However, under current reporting requirements, 527s are accountable to no one, and have become the political slush funds the BCRA hoped to eliminate.

“Because they are unaccountable and virtually unknown to the public, they have become the smoke-filled rooms of the modern campaign – billionaires and political operatives effectively cloaked from the public, dumping jaw-dropping amounts of money into influencing election outcomes.  And unlike candidates who engage in particularly nasty mudslinging, the public has no recourse to punish 527s at the ballot box, as they would a candidate who engaged in such spurious and negative tactics.

“True campaign finance reform should focus on full and immediate disclosure of all contributions – a target missed by the BCRA.  While today’s vote levels the playing field between 527s and traditional political organizations, our objective in Congress should be allowing the sun to fully shine on donors, their donations, and the candidates who solicit and accept them.”

During the first elections under the BCRA in 2004, ninety-seven 527 groups raised $323.4 million; of that, $142 million came from twenty-five individual donors.  H.R. 513 will place contribution limits on 527 donations, and allow for the same transparency of donor information that is required of candidate committees.

The bill now awaits consideration in the Senate.