527's on both sides gearing up for action

Both John McCain and Barack Obama made it a point during the primary campaign that they had no interest in helping to form the independent voter groups who are responsible for mostly negative advertising - the so-called "527" groups, named after the loophole in the Campaign Finance Reform Act which appears in the US Code under subsection "527."

However, like most political promises, this one seems to have gone by the wayside. It is illegal for a candidate to directly encourage the formation of these groups. But with a wink and a nudge, both candidates now appear ready to accept the help of the 527's.

Marc Ambinder:

There's been a spurt of 527 activity on behalf of Sen. John McCain, but Barack Obama campaign has suddenly gone silent on the subject.

That's because, after of year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama's Democratic Party, Obama's strategists have changed their approach.

An Obama adviser privy to the campaign's internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies -- what another campaign aide termed "the cavalry" -- with come to Obama's aid.

The temptation is just too great and the desire to win overcomes any squeamishness either candidate might have about how low these 527's can go. In McCain's case, there have been several 527's formed in the last month - smallish by 2004 standards but will probably concentrate on running their ads in swing states where they can do the most good.

And Obama already has a network of activists ready to go. They will be extremely well funded, gathering donations from unions and other rich donors like George Soros.

Now that Obama has also loosened the gag on his more rabid supporters, expect the dirty politiking to begin in earnest.
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