How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Presidency?
501(c)(3). 501(c)(4). 527. You might have heard some of these numbers in passing and not known to what they refer. They are provisions in the tax code that allow organizations to incorporate as not-for-profits and raise unlimited money from donors who can hide their identity, for a while.
In the 2004 election, the most infamous 527 committee -- Swift Boat Veterans for Justice -- ran ads questioning John Kerry's military record. The ads may have decided the election. The Center for Public Integrity, in its year-long study called The Buying of the President 2008, questions the hidden role these "soft" political dollars play.
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the leading Republican nominee for the presidency, worked across the aisle with Sen. Russ Feingold (D., Wis.) to pass legislation making it harder to use soft money to influence campaigns by limiting donations to political parties. It became law in 2002. It immediately landed McCain in hot water with some conservatives, who said it impinged on freedom of speech. The Supreme Court overturned portions of the law last summer, ruling that the free-speech rights of a not-for-profit group, Wisconsin Right to Life, had been unconstitutionally restrained.
The law failed to take soft money out of the equation. Independent groups have proliferated and will probably play an important role in this presidential election.Take MoveOn.org, for example. The group's members support Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) and recently asked members to vote on possible ads to air on his behalf. Obama also had help from the Services Employee International Union, an influential union that primarily represents health-care industry workers. Another group of aligned independents, Vote Hope and PowerPac.org, organized for him in California. Their activities included voter registration drives and political advertising in the state to the tune of at least $4 million.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV