The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) became the latest campaign organization to unsheathe the electoral sword when it filed a complaint against Patriot Majority with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
"Efforts to intimidate and harass independent political speech are a bipartisan offense," observed Reid Cox, Legal Director for the Center for Competitive Politics and author of a memo analyzing Patriot Majority’s political activity. "Republicans and Democrats alike are all too aware of the ease with which campaign finance complaints can be used for political gain based in the flimsiest of pretexts."
The NRCC contends that because "Patriot Majority and its affiliated committees have spent more than $1 million on television advertisements opposing Republican candidates for federal office," it should be forced to register "as a [f]ederal political committee."
As a political committee, the Patriot Majority would be subject to "federal contribution limits" for donations from individual citizens and would be unable to use or accept general treasury dollars from incorporated organizations or labor unions to fund the group’s speech.
"Unfortunately, with the FEC taking the position that it can investigate virtually any group in order to examine its ‘major purpose,’ not only is the campaign finance threat real, but there is little the independent group can do to avoid it," Cox said. "Since both sides of the aisle play this threatening game, is it too much to ask that they both agree to end the bipartisan affair of threatening free speech?"
Cox’s memo is the fourth in a series of analysis produced by the Center for Competitive Politics examining the legal and political issues surrounding the advocacy activities of independent groups in the 2008 election.