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

Who Does the Money Go?

The total amount spent by 471 committees registered as 527 groups: comes to $1,076,915,346. But where does this money go? Most of these organizations are geared around political campaigns on issues that will be voted on. This is evidenced by the cycling of expenditures with peak spending during election years, and much less spending in non-election years. In 2003 $91,100,940 was spent by 527, while just a year later a whopping $554,047,681 was spent. This suggests that spending is done to sway voters one way or another, especially in the presidential election of 2004.

The most evident use of the expenditures is seen in ads launched by "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." These ads depicted Kerry as lying about his military stories in order to glorify himself when the commercial claims those are just not true. Only a handful of veterans are effected by such an incident but the organization has spent over $22 million dollars on advertisements. This 527 organization's main donors are conservative supporters and it is easy for them to donate.

The main recipients of 527 money are advertising firms that plan and create commercials for their organizations. The top advertising firm received over $77 million dollars for its services.

Below is a list of top advertising firms and how much they have received from 527 organizations.

  • Media Strategies & Research -- $77,376,263
  • National Media Inc. -- $8,397,954
  • Red Sea, LLC -- $8,245,748
  • MacWilliams, Robinson & Partners -- $4,124,637
  • UniWorld Group Inc. -- $3,605,707
  • Multi Media Services Corp. -- $3,569,890
  • The Campaign Group Inc. -- $3,080,000
  • Axelrod & Associates -- $2,411,344
  • McLaughlin & Associates -- $2,185,154
  • Shrum, Devine and Donilon, Inc. -- $1,982,197
Not all money goes directly toward advertising. When looking at a complete list of expenditures it is evident that the larger organizations contribute money to smaller 527's or fundraising organizations that share their values. These includes well-known grassroots organizations that may have a base ready to spread the 527's message. In 2004 America Coming Together donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to "New Democrat Network", "Message & Media", as well as "American Family Voices."

Other expenditures have been cited as administrative costs.