Carroll Takes Aim at 527s

Rep. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) announced today that she will introduce legislation to close a campaign finance loophole exploited by 527 political committees, so named for the IRS code under which they are organized.

The bill will mandate that the groups disclose their contributions, expenditures and contact information to the Colorado Secretary of State.

In a Colorado Confidential interview on October 1, 2006, Rep. Carroll said of The Trailhead Group, a Republican 527 group linked to Gov. Bill Owens, “Worse, their disregard for the truth is also toxic, impacts public opinion and can and does change the outcome of elections in our democracy. That, in my view, is corruption of the political process.”From Carroll’s press release:

“527 political organizations have been able to circumvent our very strict state campaign laws. 527s control most of the cash in political campaigns and yet have the fewest reporting requirements with the state,” Rep Carroll states. “This bill will close the loophole that has allowed 527s to operate outside the law by adding them to the definition of Colorado Political Committee.”

This straightforward, direct solution will require 527s operating in Colorado to disclose sources of contributions, expenses, and contact information to the Secretary of State, just as is now required for all other candidate committees and political committees.

“The public will be able to identify the sources of the very worst attack ads and mailings and hold those behind them accountable,” Rep. Carroll asserts. “Ending the ability of 527s and their supporters to be shielded from such obviously-needed disclosures will bring all these groups that have most abused the public in the recent campaign under state control.”

The bill comes in response to a strong bipartisan outcry from the public about the scourge of deceptive, negative campaigns from well-funded ambiguous sources with very little reporting or public accountability. The memory of all the mudslinging ads of the recent election is fresh.

“I suspect there may be some opposition to this measure from both parties, but this is absolutely essential to protect the dignity, transparency and integrity of our election process in Colorado.” Rep. Carroll said.

According to Carroll, 527 committees spent more than $13 million through September 2006 to influence Colorado voters this election cycle. Organizations were required to file their post-election reports with the IRS on December 7; it takes several days for electronic reports to be uploaded to the IRS website.

Colorado Confidential will post a statewide analysis of 527 committees once the complete 2006 election cycle information becomes available.