Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The final voyage of the Swiftboaters

Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, the Republican-backed organization that went after John Kerry in 2004, is no more.

The Federal Election Commission announced today that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth will pay a fine of under $300,000 and disband the 527 organization that expressly (and illegally) advocated for the defeat of Sen. John Kerry in the ‘04 presidential election.

The SwiftVets group raised more than $25 million in unlimited individual and corporate donations during the 2004 election cycle with the chief purpose of convincing voters through advertising, direct mail and other communications that Kerry was “unfit for command.” Such overt messages opposing a candidate should have required SwiftVets to register with the FEC as a political committee and abide by contribution limits.

By registering only with the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt 527 organization, SwiftVets was able to accept approximately $12.5 million in individual contributions in excess of the $5,000-per-year limit to political committees and to accept more than $715,000 in prohibited corporate contributions—commonly called “soft money.”

John Kerry opened his war record up to scrutiny when he made it one of his main qualifications for office. But the Swiftboaters didn't just scrutinize him: they used innuendo, speculation and even outright lies to try to discredit him. Their Republican backing became known pretty quickly; and now we know that complaints about their tax status were justified.

Too bad the ruling comes two years too late. I wasn't a big Kerry fan (and I really, really, really hope he doesn't run again). But such a delayed ruling means the group had their full effect on the 2004 elections and essentially let them get away with illegal fundraising -- in exchange for a $300,000 fee (er, fine).

Better late than never. But let's hope the pace of justice moves a little more quickly in the 2008 cycle.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you most upset about? That they exercised their "freedom of speech" or that they failed to properly file some paperwork somewhere?


1/10/2007 1:42 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Nice going Sean Aqui, you got yourself a pet troll. I prefer rottweilers myself (they're a lot friendlier and more rational) but to each their own ;).

1/10/2007 4:10 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

LOL! JP5's not so bad. I've known her for a while; she and I share moderator duties on a political discussion board. She's a partisan Republican and we agree on almost nothing -- but she's not really a troll. More of a stalker. ;)

1/10/2007 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm. I guess I thought you might want some opposing views. Makes for more interesting debate, IMHO. Apparently not everyone here welcomes opposing views so much?


1/10/2007 9:54 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Like I said, I don't mind having you here JP5. It does make for a more interesting debate.

1/10/2007 11:23 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

It rubbed me the wrong way. It's the sort of underhanded backstabbing disinformation campaign bs that goes on in my community continuously so it is especially annoying.

I'm not a Kerry fan, I'm also not a Mc/Cain fan but I'd find it equally repugnant if a group of lefties attempted the same tactics on Mc/Cain.

JP5's comment struck me much like some of the locals here: "let me twist your words and spit in your face every chance I get". If that was not how it was intended then I apologise. Maybe I've become hypersensitive to oozing sarcasm from the right.

1/11/2007 5:38 AM  

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