On Friday, Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent reported that liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org has decided to close its 527 group, the Voter Fund. This move, Sargent said, came "partly in response to the Illinois Senator's insistence that such groups should not spend on his behalf during the general election."
The benefit to MoveOn of having a 527 and not just using its political action committee is that donations to PACs are capped at $5,000 per donor per calendar year, and there is no such cap on money given to 527 groups.
But rather than being a true unilateral disarmament, this move seems like a technical one, and almost entirely symbolic. As Sargent noted further down in his post, though the 527 has been open legally, it hasn't really been operating for years. In a statement released in December 2006, MoveOn's Wes Boyd said, "the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, the MoveOn 527, ceased operations in 2004." He confirmed that again to Salon on Friday.
In May, Eli Pariser, the executive director of MoveOn.org political action, told Salon's Mike Madden, "We shut [the 527] down because we wanted to focus on the small donor work."
"The bottom line for us is that this is a strong, definitive public commitment to the kind of small-donor-driven politics that allows all Americans to have a voice," the group's Ilyse Hogue told Salon Friday.
Asked if the decision to permanently shutter the 527 came because of Obama's desire not to have those kinds of organizations working on his behalf, Hogue said, "I think the fact that we have a candidate who is personifying that same commitment ... that MoveOn has predominantly been about since we were born means that we have full confidence we can win this election using those donors with our PAC money. Obviously, we've had no communication with the Obama campaign about this directly or indirectly ... and can't, legally."
MoveOn will still work during this election year through its PAC. And, Hogue emphasized, 90 percent of donations to the group during its 10-year history have been under the $5,000 limit anyway.