Nan Gao
Dylan Marks
Andrew Peterson
Chester Shiu

CS 201
Stanford University


What are 527's? | Who Donates? | Where does the money go?
Government Regulation | Ethics


Late in the 2004 presidential election George Bush discussed his views on 527's, which Democratic groups used to greater advantage. His comments can be described as critical and he believes that they are shady organizations that will air commercials on something they don't know about. However, in 2000 Bush's Texas cronies set up a 527 to slander and help defeat John McCain and "Bush thought they were just dandy."

527's were created to allow groups to mobilize support for an issue without the constraints of the Federal Election Commission or taxes. The purpose was to give citizens the ability to gather power and spread the word on an issue freely. For the most part the 527's that exist do fit this ideal; long term organizations spreading their messages. However, particularly in the last election, several 527's conducted highly questionable campaigns. The most infamous 527 is Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose sole intention seemed to be to slander John Kerry.

While these 527's generally have modest and fairly good intentions it is the ones who can sway an election that get the most funding from wealthy contributors. These contributors use these 527's to see if they can affect an election without breaking any FEC rules and for the most part remaining anonymous. A section that was supposed to give the little guy more rights in spreading values has instead become an avenue for wealthy contributors to flood the airwaves with partisan commercials.

The Internet has provided a great mobilization tool for those who want to band together around a common idea and 527 organization consolidate this movement quite well. If someone visits a 527 website and doesn't agree with their values then they can simply leave, and is the beauty of the internet. The ethical danger is how the money donated can lead to advertisements that slander an opponent and this becomes excess unless there is more regulation by the FEC.