House caps nonprofits’ campaign donations

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The House on Wednesday voted to limit the multimillion-dollar donations to nonprofit groups that changed the face of American politics in the 2004 presidential election.

Majority Republicans said they were closing what they contended was a gaping loophole. Democrats portrayed the vote as an effort to undercut their supporters.

Republican support carried the day in the 218-209 vote to cap contributions to “527” political groups. The outcome was a sharp turnaround from 2002, when Republicans resisted the successful Democratic-led legislation to limit campaign spending.

The flow of unregulated contributions “still dominates the political landscape,” said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif. Urging constraints on the nonprofit groups that overwhelmingly favored Democratic causes in 2004, he said, “Now it’s going to 527s instead of the political parties.”

The “527” refers to a section of the tax law. These groups are tax-exempt organizations that use voter mobilization and issue advertisements to influence federal elections.

They blossomed after a campaign finance law in 2002 banned federal candidates and the national parties from accepting unlimited donations from individuals, unions and corporations.

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