The coordinated campaign -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The coordinated campaign -- UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2006 at 5:45 AM

The headline is a subtle joke. The stealth group that has so far spent $100,000 on TV commercials to attack Mike Beebe's record  may not under the law be coordinated in any way with the Republican Party, the A$a campaign, etc. See, this little so-called 527 group is just providing information, not campaigning against Beebe. The  group chief's former Republican job, the Republican leanings of its supporters  and the solely anti-Democratic tenor of their ads? These things are purely coincidental and unconnected to the A$a! campaign. Same for all those blogs pumping the A$a spin of the day. Independent. Right.

UPDATE: We found the Coalition for Arkansas's Future filings on the IRS website. Biggest single contributor to this "independent" committee in the second quarter of the year: The Republican Party of Arkansas, which kicked in $17,500. There are no limits on conttributions to 527s. If the group files on a quarterly basis, we might get one last look at its contributors before the November election.

But that report won't tell us, for example, who's providing the money that the Republican Party is shipping along. Effectively, the 527s give wealthy people a way around the limits on individual campaign contributions. While you may give no more than $2,000 per election to A$a, you can give tens of thousands to the Republican Party (as, for example, Lord's Ranch operator Ted Suhl has done.) If the Republican Party chooses to give some of its money to a 527 that slams Beebe (though carefully avoiding "direct advocacy of a candidate's defeat or election"), it's perfectly, if odoriferously, legal.

It becomes head-swimming when you look at major sources of revenue for the Republican Party, in addition to recent fund-raising dinners. According to one national data bank, the two biggest single contributions to Republican Party of Arkansas coffers this election cycle were $205,000 from a 2004 Republican campaign tool, the Arkansas Leadership Committee, and $125,000 from surplus money in A$a Hutchinson's congressional campaign account. So, you could seemingly argue, that, at least indirectly, contributors to A$a are financing the theoretically independent ads currently blasting Beebe. And some of them are undoubtedly maximum contributors already to the gubernatorial campaign, but given no new benefactor opportunities through the 527.

Other questions: Will the Democrats set up a similar organization here as they've done in some other states? And are other Republican cutout groups in the offing for the final days of the campaign, when, on account of looser filing rules, they are even harder to identify?

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