Group grope… To connect some of the dots of the discussion by Matt Yglesias, Atrios, and my colleague Amy (see below) about the president’s curious sudden dislike of 527s. The group his campaign set up to cover the legal and political expenses of contesting the 2000 Florida recount was, yes, a 527. I don’t know if that group, the Bush-Cheney 2000, Inc-Recount Fund, ever ran adds. But it did come close to running afoul of a law designed to force 527s to disclose their donors. And, tellingly, the disclosure law it almost broke was put in place just before the 2000 general election as a direct response to the mysterious appearance during the GOP primaries of yet another 527, Republicans for Clean Air. That group ran ads bashing John McCain’s environmental voting record and praising then-Gov. Bush’s. Not only were the facts in the ads a stretch, but because there was at the time no disclosure requirement, no one knew who was paying for them. The mystery was solved by the New York Times, which eventually revealed the donor to be Dallas billionaire and Bush-backer Sam Wyly. The final irony, Public Citizen’s Craig Holman tells me, is that those same disclosure requirements are what made it possible for the New York Times last week to pretty quickly figure out the web of Bush cronies who supported the anti-Kerry swift boaters.
Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.More by Paul Glastris