A move by the Federal Election Commission to issue rules regarding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002--a.k.a. McCain-Feingold-has sparked a rift among the public-interest groups that supported the legislation.
A move by the Federal Election Commission to issue rules regarding the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002--a.k.a. McCain-Feingold--has sparked a rift among the public interest groups that supported the legislation. At issue are so-called "527" groups, most of them run by" Democrats, which for the last year have been raising and spending millions of dollars of soft money--the large, unregulated contributions that political parties are now prohibited from taking in. On the one side are those reformers, led by Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer, who think the 527s are in violation of McCain-Feingold and want the FEC to reign them in. On the other are those, led by Common Cause president Chellie Pingree, who think it's too late in the '04 campaign to start making new rules that will affect its outcome, and want to sort it all out after November. The twist is that Wertheimer was Pingree's predecessor as head of Common Cause--and is none too pleased that his old group isn't supporting the 527 crackdown. WW is told that Wertheimer even approached members of Common Cause's hoard and asked them to help bring Pingree around. Wertheimer was unavailable for comment when we called, but Pingree says, "I'm not sure who's been calling who, but I can say it's a hotly contested debate. There's been an incredible amount of dialogue"