The National Journal published an article about the Federal Election Commission’s (“FEC”) hearing today regarding the rules governing federal candidates’ participation in state and local party committee fundraisers. The title of the article mischaracterizes the hearing as an opportunity to close a “soft money” loophole. The entire article reads like a press release from the pro-regulation groups and reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues involved in this rulemaking.
Contrary to how these events are portrayed by members of the pro-regulation groups, most state and local party committee fundraisers are not large dollar fundraisers. Local party committees raise funds in small increments and report their receipts and disbursements to local and state election agencies. Characterizing these events as a “soft money loophole” is misleading and is counterproductive to an honest debate on the issues. The pro-regulation groups do not understand the important role of state and local party committees.
In addition, these low-dollar fundraisers are unique opportunities for federal candidates and officeholders to interact with a large number of volunteers and grassroots activists. These are the folks who volunteer their time to stuff envelopes, staff phone banks, and perform literature drops for the party committees and their candidates. In this sense, they facilitate communication between volunteers, grassroots supporters and federal candidates and officeholders. These events have even been described as “watering the grassroots” because they provide an opportunity for average voters to directly interact with their elected officials. Promulgating vague and subjective rules governing the events will chill federal candidate and officeholder participation and perform a disservice to the election process.
The pro-regulation groups claim to support grassroots participation in politics. Their war on state and local party committees chills grassroots participation. Actions speak louder than words.