The 411 On 527s
April 6, 2006 - 10:59am ET
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The liberal group Alliance For Justice has been a vocal opponent of efforts to limit actions of 527 groups. Their president, Nan Aron, has said that limiting 527s will "chill voter participation, stunt voter registration, and reduce voter turnout during an election year." Here's a quick analysis from AFJ on last night's House vote to pass the 527 Reform Act:
Last night, in a close vote of 218-209, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 513, the 527 Reform Act of 2006. Alliance for Justice opposed this legislation because it will severely curtail the rights of individual Americans to engage in the political process.
Under current law, the groups commonly referred to as "527s" are collections of individuals who pool their resources to ensure their issues are included in the national political debate. These 527s work on issue advocacy and voter participation activities and do not coordinate with candidates or parties and do not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates. For more information about 527s, see Alliance for Justice's "Fact Sheet on 527 Reform."
H.R. 513 will bring these independent 527 organizations under the regulation of federal election law - but it won't end there. It is only a matter of time before nonprofit 501(c) groups are targeted for similar campaign finance regulation, since 501(c)s carry out many of the same activities as 527s. The difference is in the amount of activities, not the kind. Though 501(c)(3) organizations are not allowed to engage in the same political activities as 527s, other 501(c) types can. For these other 501(c) types, the political activity must be a secondary activity of the organization, while political activity must be the primary activity of a 527. 501(c) nonprofits across the nation should keep tabs on this 527 Reform legislation, since they may face a similar fight soon.
H.R. 513 now heads to the U.S. Senate, which has two similar 527 Reform bills: S. 271 and S. 1053. Alliance for Justice will continue to follow this legislation as it moves through the Senate.
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