Wisconsin State Journal: With 527 Group, Scott Walker Joins Long List of Candidates Pushing Limits of Federal Law


“It’s absurd,” said Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C. “American voters can ask for and expect more honesty from the individuals seeking to be our next president.” ...

In a soon-to-be-published paper on the matter, Ryan wrote that “for decades, the FEC has failed to adequately regulate such activities. And things are only getting worse.”

Walker is among at least 15 Republicans who have formed tax-exempt political committees that help raise their public profiles as they contemplate running. But only one of them, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, has formed a presidential exploratory committee subject to the $2,700 limit, Ryan wrote. ...

Ryan further criticized Walker’s characterization of Our American Revival as being “focused on ideas.” According to federal law, 527 groups are organized for “influencing or attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election or appointment of any individual to Federal, State, or local public office.”

“Either they need to acknowledge that these activities are to influence Walker’s candidacy/election, in which case they’re in trouble with the FEC, or they need to claim that these ads aren’t for the purpose of influencing any election, in which case they’ve violated tax law by claiming Section 527 status,” Ryan said. “They can’t have it both ways.”...

The unresolved legal question, Ryan said, is whether the rest of the money the committees raise can be used to make “independent expenditures” that boost their respective candidate’s campaigns or sling mud at their opponents.

“My interpretation of the statute is that this would be illegal,” Ryan said. “This renders the contribution limits virtually meaningless.”

To read the full story in The Wisconsin State Journal, click here.