MoveOn Closes Its 527
by Todd Beeton, Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 09:41:13 AM EDT
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.
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.