This article originally provided by
September 22, 2006
GOP leaders blasts 527s
Groups have no contribution limit, congressman says
By Paul J. Nyden
The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee said Thursday
he opposes organizations with no ties to candidates and no contribution limits
being able to run advertisements against congressional candidates — Democrat or
“I don’t like any 527s,” Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., said about the groups
that take their names from a section of the federal tax code.
“I don’t care whether they are campaigning for Republicans or Democrats,” he
said. “I didn’t even know they were down there [in West Virginia]. I appreciate
The Economic Freedom Fund, a 527 fund-raising organization that is currently
running negative ads against Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W.Va., has gotten support
from Mollohan’s opponent, state Delegate Chris Wakim, R-Ohio.
Will Holley, spokesman for Wakim, said Economic Freedom Fund ads help the
public understand who Mollohan is.
Bill J. Perry, a Houston, Texas, housing developer, is the sole contributor
to the Economic Freedom Fund. Perry, who also gave $4.5 million to the Swift
Boat attack ad campaign against John Kerry in 2004, has donated $5 million to
the Economic Freedom Fund since Aug. 18.
The group is paying for automatic telephone ads, mailings and television ads
Reynolds, however, stopped short of saying he would ask such groups to stop
their actions in West Virginia. During a telephone press conference Thursday, he
explained how the GOP congressional group decided to target Mollohan, who has
held the 1st Congressional District seat since 1983.
Reynolds said the NRCC added Mollohan to “our ‘Sitting Duck Program’ which
identifies the most vulnerable Democrats” because the congressman “had not
raised a lot of money when he started his race ... and the increasing Republican
nature of the state made this seat an opportunity for us.”
He declined to answer direct questions about the West Virginia race. Mollohan
supporters have raised issues about payouts Wakim admitted making for illegal
video lottery machines in his bars on Wheeling Island prior to January 2002. “I
will leave that up to the voters,” Reynolds said.
Pressure is building on the Economic Freedom Fund and other 527s, many
questioning whether their ads are truthful and whether they have been conducting
illegal push polls.
On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter sued the Economic Freedom
Fund for allegedly making illegal, pre-recorded telephone calls in violation of
an Indiana law. The group is also attacking Democrats running for Congress in
Indiana, Georgia and Iowa.
Nick Casey, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, said several
people have asked state officials to investigate the legality of the ads
circulated and aired in West Virginia.
Officials with the state Republican Party did not return telephone calls
seeking comment about the ads.
Perry is listed as the sole contributor to the Economic Freedom Fund, a
Sacramento, Calif.-based 527 group. Named after a section of federal tax law,
527s are not subject to conventional campaign finance restrictions.
James Boyce, executive director of the Patriot Project based in Boston,
Mass., said his group is focused on making 527 groups more transparent to the
“The Economic Freedom Fund is the mother ship of these groups. They are
spending money attacking candidates all around the country,” Boyce said.
One telephone ad the group is using in Northern West Virginia says doctors
are leaving the state because of the inaction of Mollohan in not reforming
malpractice laws and to “limit lawsuit abuse.”
The West Virginia Board of Medicine reports the number of actively licensed
physicians in the state has increased from 3,317 to 3,650 since 1997.
Another telephone ad states Mollohan is under federal investigation for
steering a quarter-billion dollars to his district. That call, and television
ads bought by the fund, focus on a 500-page April report by the conservative
political group National Legal and Policy Center.
Mollohan released detailed financial reports in June he said proved the group
had “wildly exaggerated the inadvertent errors on my past financial disclosure
statements. They also show that NLPC is dead wrong in implying that I have
improperly benefited from my office.”
The NLPC has refused to release the report.
The fund has also mailed four ads to state residents accusing Mollohan of
such things as voting against “Amber Alert” bills to protect sexually abused
children and failing to support pharmaceutical coverage for seniors.
Mollohan did vote against one “Amber Alert” bill because he thought it was
too weak. He voted for another bill with more federal funds that has already
created protection programs in 54 of West Virginia’s 55 counties, said Gerry
Griffith, a spokesman for Mollohan’s campaign.
The fund’s ads never point out those facts. The fund also routinely refuses
to answer any telephone calls.
But Holley called the ads “entirely legitimate.”
“Alan Mollohan needs to explain to voters how he could vote against a bill
designed to protect our children from kidnappers and child molesters,” he said.
“I don’t think [the Economic Freedom Fund] are bothered by the truth,” said
Doug Moore, who is running the re-election campaign of Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga.
“Fact checking is not their strong point.”
Moore said Marshall, Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, and former Rep. Baron
Hill, D-Ind., have all been targeted by the Perry-funded group. Many of the ads
it has run against them have focused on issues like gay marriage, child
molesters, pornography, abortion and immigration.
“Politics is not for the faint of heart. But there has to be a basis in fact
for what you say,” said Moore.
To contact staff writer Paul J. Nyden, use e-mail or call 348-5164.