The McCain-Feingold restrictions led to the expansion of the use of independent expenditure groups such as “527s” — so named for the provision in federal tax laws — that have been used with devastating effect by such groups as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which is credited with helping derail the presidential bid of Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and MoveOn.org.
“We have had plenty of time to see how the law works and the court will conclude it is being administered in an unconstitutional manner,” Mr. Duncan said.
Mr. Duncan is in the middle of a fight to retain his RNC post, with several state party chairmen and national committeemen campaigning for support from the Republican governors assembled here for their annual meeting. Seventeen of the nation’s 21 Republican governors are here, and will be discussing the criteria for choosing the next chairman.
Mr. Duncan said the timing of the suits had nothing to do with his potential re-election bid at the RNC’s annual winter meeting in January.
He said James Bopp Jr., a constitutional lawyer and RNC member from Indiana, will be the attorney of record in the suits.
Mr. Duncan said the suits are being filed now because “we have more experience now in how the finance laws work; we will be working with governors races in Virginia and New Jersey next year; and we have redistricting in the states coming up.”
“If we can’t take non-federal [soft] money to help get these things done, we will be at a severe disadvantage,” he said.
Mr. Duncan said he has not had time to think about running for re-election amid a runoff election for a Senate seat in Georgia and a recount for a Senate seat from Minnesota. “I don’t feel any urgency to announce a run for re-election,” he said. “I have to do my job first.”
Mr. Duncan led the RNC in raising more than $315 million for this year’s campaigns, winning the admiration of Republican candidates and state Republican Party officials and outperforming Howard Dean’s DNC fundraising performance. About $53 million was used to bolster Mr. McCain’s bid.
So far, the RNC has spent more than $12 million in direct and coordinated funds for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, both of which lagged far behind their equivalent Democratic committees.
The RNC also spent hundreds of millions of dollars in a combination of direct, “hybrid,” independent expenditure and get-out-the-vote efforts for the McCain campaign.
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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