Last week John Kerry threw yet another hissy-fit about the Swift Boat Veterans For The Truth and their efforts to damage his run for the presidency. He charged that the Bush administration was behind the Swift Boat Veterans, and demanded the President get their ads off the air, even going so far as to file a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.
Under the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, so-called “527 groups” cannot have “collaborative links” with any campaign. Kerry says the Bush campaign is working with the Swifties, citing as evidence one Bush campaign official who appeared in one of the ads (who has since left the campaign), the presence of Swifty literature in one campaign office, and drawing correlations between contributors to the Swifties and contributors to the Bush campaign.
It takes a hell of a lot to get a born-again agnostic like me to quote scripture to make a point, but Kerry’s tantrum put me in mind of Matthew 7:4-5: “Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
I decided to poke around the web and see what I could find out about the world of 527’s and how they work in campaigns. My first stop was here, where I found out that so far a grand total of $94,049,072 had been raised by 527’s this year, as of last Sunday. Of that money, a whopping 6.3% had gone to groups supporting Republican causes, and less than 2.7% of THAT amount had gone to the Swifties.
Here’s the breakdown in a nutshell
Pro-Democrat 527 groups: 17
Pro-Republican 527 groups: 7
Pro-Democrat 527 groups, total receipts: $88,236,434
Pro-Republican 527 groups, total receipts: $5,912,638
Number of the top 25 527 donors who gave to pro-Democratic groups: 24
Number of the top 25 527 donors who gave to pro-Republican groups: 1
Ranking of top pro-Republican donor: tied for 10th
Then I went digging into the charges of ties between the Bush campaign and the Swifties. Apparently the extent of it is that several of the initial donors have also given a lot of money to the Bush campaign. Once I got over my initial “well, duh, what were you expecting?” reaction, I started looking around for similar ties between the Kerry camp and anti-Bush 527’s.
Luckily for me, the inestimable Suzy Rice had already found my answers, over at blogsforbush.com (which I have never visited before, but might now have to take a peek or two). There we find such people as Zack Exley, former Internet director of moveon.org, now serving as Kerry’s Internet director; The Media Fund spokesman and former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan; and campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, close friend of Harold Ickes, former Clinton administration official and driving force behind The Media Fund.
But what about the charges of collaboration between the Bush Campaign and the Swifties? Surely that’s unprecedented. Again, Suzy and blogsforbush.com are way ahead of me. They have a screen shot from the Democratic National Committee’s official web site that states clearly that “The Democratic Party is partering with MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, Campaign for America’s Future, and dozens of other groups” to “organize a massive public mobilization.”
When Kerry first started whining and squalling about the Swifities and begging Bush to call them off, the President asked Kerry to join him in renouncing and condemning all the 527 groups. Kerry studiously ignored that request, and no wonder; when one is getting nearly 95% of the benefit from a loophole in the law, it’s much more convenient to squawk about that tiny percentage that is against you than to simply stop all the abuses.