Ready, Fire, Aim! - Mihail's Public Blog: The 527 advocacy groups and the elections

Friday, December 17, 2004

The 527 advocacy groups and the elections

While Republican 527s had only spent a few hundred thousand by May of this year, they quickly began to spend tens of millions of dollars -- especially the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- once they saw that the 527 committee was here to stay and having an impact on the election according to this New York Times story (registration required):

As a leading pro-Bush force, the group, originally known as Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, spent $22.4 million, the report said, a total that exceeded by $1.2 million one of Mr. Bush's greatest tormentors, the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, a 527 that made enormous use of the Internet to attract a lot of small donations.

Referring to the saturation of television advertisements during the campaign, Mr. Lewis [founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity] said that "none probably had a bigger impact" than those from the Swift boat veterans, who suggested that Mr. Kerry was untruthful about events during his years of service. Mr. Lewis described the veterans' campaign as "incendiary character smear" and "factually flawed."

But it proved effective, he said. "In terms of political impact," he said, "the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads were easily the most successful amid the overwhelming din of paid propaganda throughout the year."

David B. Magleby, a professor of political science at Brigham Young University and senior fellow of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy who contributed to the report, called the Swift Vets' campaign masterly and added, "Bush got the best of both worlds because he could decry 527's and benefit from their activities at the same time."

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