MoveOn Closes Its 527

Obama has asked his allied 527 organizations not to raise and spend money on his behalf and MoveOn is complying, per Greg Sargent at TPM:

MoveOn, the advocacy group supporting Barack Obama, has decided to permanently shutter its 527 operation, partly in response to the Illinois Senator's insistence that such groups should not spend on his behalf during the general election, I've learned from the group's spokesperson.

What does this mean in real world terms?

By shuttering its 527, MoveOn is effectively killing its ability to raise money in huge chunks from labor unions, foundations, and big donors who would give over $5,000. The decision doesn't mean MoveOn will stop spending on Obama's behalf. Instead it will raise money exclusively with its political action committee, whose average donation is below $50 and will even be raising money with things like bake sales starting this weekend.

To put this in perspective, MoveOn's 527 raised $20 million for the general election in 2004 -- and at least half of that came from donations over $5,000.

"This is an affirmation that we, like Senator Obama, believe that this election can be won by ordinary Americans giving small donations," MoveOn spokesperson Ilyse Hogue told me.

As Ben Smith notes, this move is largely symbolic, as MoveOn's 527 has actually been dormant since 2005. But its symbolism is important since one of Barack Obama's reasons for opting out of public financing was his criticism that John McCain refuses to reign in the unregulated money being raised and spent on his behalf.

As Obama said the other day:

But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.

The right's latest gambit to try to portray Barack Obama's move to forego public financing as hypocritical is to cite the various statements of support for public financing of elections by many on the left, including MoveOn. From a press release from the RNC:

Liberal Group MoveOn.Org Supports Public Financing:

MoveOn.Org's Political Action Website Features A Petition For Public Financing Of Elections. "Can you imagine if people could be elected to Congress without massive wealth and without begging for campaign cash from big donors? Congress wouldn't owe corporate lobbyists any favors. Help make Congress answer to the people by signing this petition: 'Congress must pass public financing to make our elections fair.'"

MoveOn's move today dilutes this criticism.

But what the RNC ends up doing in the end with this little press release is to make Barack Obama's point: that raising money from small dollar donations from Americans all over the country is a form of public financing, precisely in keeping with the spirit of MoveOn's petition cited above.

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, Barack Obama, John McCain, moveon.org (all tags)

Comments

29 Comments

Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

I would say this worries me, except Obama has shown the ability to raise truly massive amounts of money and to respond quickly and forcefully to any attempted smear; this could be a good move.

by JDF 2008-06-20 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

Ben also said that his counterpart, Jonathon Martin, has been looking around in Repub circles and sees no sign of a coming anti-Obama 527 group.

By this time last cycle, Swift Boats and another key GOP 527 had already formed. A veteran Republican who works closely with outside conservative groups tells him: "[Democrats] think another Swift Boat is coming - and it's not."

Interesting.

by recusancy 2008-06-20 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

I heard that Freedom Watch and another Republican group that I can't remember were still around (Rep. Clyburn (SC) was on Washington Journal on C-span this morning talking about it).

by skohayes 2008-06-20 10:11AM | 0 recs
Wow

That's...unexpected.

It also softens the public financing buzz the MSM is pushing, with the "ordinary Americans giving small donations" frame.

Nice job, MO

by Neef 2008-06-20 09:53AM | 0 recs
Are you sure we're not getting something

like the "National Infrastructure Getting Good Elected Representatives" (given the "Citizens United Not Timid" thing, I wouldn't put it past them).

by bobdoleisevil 2008-06-20 09:55AM | 0 recs
here's the truth

If "I'm pure because I accept public financing" was something that voters gave a tinker's dam about, it would have helped John Edwards among Dem primary voters.  It didn't.

by Adam B 2008-06-20 09:56AM | 0 recs
And only about 7% checkoff anyway

Per this USA Today article,

Only 7.3% of 2006 tax returns filed from Jan. 1 to April 14 designated a $3 contribution to the public campaign-financing system, according to data the Internal Revenue Service prepared for USA TODAY. It is the latest sign that taxpayer support to help pay for presidential campaigns is waning.
(I'm surprised it was as high as 7%.)

I think a fair conclusion is that 93% of taxpayers don't want tax money spent on public financing.

by sawgrass727 2008-06-20 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: And only about 7% checkoff anyway

Or they mistakenly believe this adds to their tax bill.  It doesn't.

by Adam B 2008-06-20 10:21AM | 0 recs
It may not help him if purity was what

he was running on.  But it does help him show he means to live up to his promises, he means what he says about changing how things are done.

by GFORD 2008-06-20 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: here's the truth

It's correct that few people care about financing, but you're incorrectly linking Edwards reliance on it as a main campaign issue with Obama's ability to use it as a counter to McLame's current government financing attack.

by Beren 2008-06-20 01:17PM | 0 recs
Too Bad

Too bad they didn't close before they started attacking Hillary.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-06-20 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Too Bad

Seriously?
That is your contribution to the discussion here.

How long are we in for this?
Through November?
Through Obama's Presidency?

Just let me know, I want to know how long I am going to be reading comments about how terribly unjust everyone in the world who supported Obama is.

by JDF 2008-06-20 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

Bad move in my book. 20M to nearly nothing. While Obama has lots of cash there are times and circumstances when 527's can say things and pound on issues that the campaign can't directly advertise.

I'm all for his opting out of the system. He's got a better system for his campaign.

I believe we'll see whether or not this is a good move in the long run.

by BigDog 2008-06-20 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

I agree,  I hope this is just all smoke and mirrors and they find some loophole.

A shame, Republicans win again,  they took three little numbers and made it something evil.

Face it, the only reason as Democrats we shudder at those three little numbers is what the extremists in the right wing did.

I never saw MoveOn make up lies and innuendo of someones past to smear any American.

by DemsLandslide2008 2008-06-20 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

Don't forget MoveOn still has the PAC which can run ads.

by jsfox 2008-06-20 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

It's going to be OK... the whole purpose of this effort is to coordinate messaging.  Move On has spent tons of money in past elections and their results have been disappointing.  Obama feels that if everyone gets together under one roof with coordinated, targeted messages, it will be much more effective, dollar for dollar, than dozens of independent groups running willy nilly with their own agendas and of conflicting messages.

I know that it's different and kindof scary, but he's done everything right so far... I think that we should trust that he knows what he's doing.

by LordMike 2008-06-20 12:53PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

You're kidding right? Obama raised over $250 million during the PRIMARY with a divided democratic base.

And all those donors who maxed out to Hillary Clinton can give to him since it's $2300 per candidate, not $2300 per election.

He'll be fine. :)

by Yalin 2008-06-20 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

I'm not the least bit worried about Obama, except his funding numbers monthly, as pointed out by Jerome recently, are falling while his techincal primary season runs one helluva long time and his campaign expenses are increasing as he staff for a 50 state campaign.

He has lots of cash but not nearly enough dedicated to the General campaign. And he can't use his primary funds.

You can max out twice: once for the primary and once for the general.

My worry is the time when an attack ad is absolutely necessary and some organizations have their hands tied by the candidates campaign.

You don't show up to a gunfight with a knife. Show some up with the heaviest weapons possible. If you know a gunfight is coming, show up with a combat shotgun and automatic weapons. The other side will for sure..

He just took some of our weapons away. Notice how no other organization, that I know of at least, has followed his lead.

by BigDog 2008-06-22 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

The 527 Progressive Media USA, led by David Brock, closed its doors several weeks ago in response to Obama's pressure.

I just don't think this is an issue at all considering he has the capability to raise enormous sums of money. The 527s were needed by candidates in the past because they couldn't raise the necessary money on their own. That's not the case this time around.

by Yalin 2008-06-22 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

I saw Bill Bennett, gambling addict and author of The Book of Virtues, the other day saying in essence and with with a straight face that it was practically un-American and certainly immoral to take political donations from public individual Americans in amounts as small $10. He was trying, without shame, to label Obama as unfit for office because he (Obama) had decided to opt out of taking federal money for his campaign and was going to depend on the small donations of individuals instead of the millions the drug, oil, Halliburton, pick your special interest, given by the big boys. Sounds like a terrorist plot to ME.

by marya 2008-06-20 11:28AM | 0 recs
Swiftboaters not that excited this time round

It seems John McCain is just not all that attractive to a lot of the big money sleezeballs needed to fund any 527 slime machine. Oil millionare and scumbag extrodinaire T. Boone Pickens who ponied up $3 million to the swiftboaters says he won't be spending a penny this cycle. Just money for some 'bipartisan' energy initiative (he's been hot on wind power lately).

The DCI group raised $45 million for anti-Kerry ads but are going out of their way to make it clear they won't be doing anything this cycle. Evidently they are worried about corporate clients now that the winds are shifting. Don't want to be on the wrong side if it's going to cost them.

Looks like John McBush is pretty much on his own. Well except for Larry Johnson, PUMA and Serial liar and jailbird Sinclair and his Kilt wearing disbarred lawyer. McCain is so screwed.

by hankg 2008-06-20 11:35AM | 0 recs
is he joking?

why the hell would he ever do this? This is the ultimate Dukakis/Kerry move, to play nice. Playing nice loses. Of course the GOP is gonna have 527's. We need them. Does he want to lose? Democrats lose because all they care about is pleasing a media they'll never please. That was Al Gore, John Kerry, and now Barack Obama. We need that 527. We need every penny we can get. What if the small donors start piping down or fizzling?

by Lakrosse 2008-06-20 11:53AM | 0 recs
Re: is he joking?

Obama wants to control his messaging. He doesn't want to have to answer for or get knocked off message by some group trying to 'help' him.

He knows exactly what he is doing. He runs a disciplined and very focused campaign.

by hankg 2008-06-20 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: is he joking?

Move On, especially, knows how to steal the limelight and put democrats on the defensive with their poorly copywritten ads... purposely designed to give them publicity, but often is destructive to the cause as a whole.  Remember all the BS with Betrayus?  Sure, we in the base loved it... but, then our congressfolk had to spend weeks distracted by that nonsense instead of doing what they were supposed to do.

by LordMike 2008-06-20 12:55PM | 0 recs
Remember all the BS with Betrayus?

Have people started supporting the Bush/McCain disaster again?

by Beren 2008-06-20 01:04PM | 0 recs
hankg is spot on.

No need for concern.

It's been said that Obama will raise $100M in June. He doesn't need others airing ads in his behalf which might counter his message or he might wind up having to apologize for.

by Beren 2008-06-20 01:12PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

It's important to note that this move is mostly symbolic.  Move On does most of its advertising through it's PAC and union 527's (not their own).  They will still be out there...

by LordMike 2008-06-20 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527

What Obama, the DNC, and now MoveOn have done to clean up the process is a wonderful step in the right direction.

And if the very term "527" can be made to stand for lowlife political attacks, the process will be well served.

by Beren 2008-06-20 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn Closes Its 527
What does this mean in real world terms?
Well, for starters it means that a whole lot of folks are gonna have to look for their entry-level political organizing jobs inside the Party apparatus rather than through semi-independent groups.
by Endymion 2008-06-21 10:21PM | 0 recs

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