Fred Thompson's 'exploration’ causes confusion on USA election rules

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Fred Thompson

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The day after Fred Thompson's "exploratory committee" announced that it raised just over US$3 million dollars, the type of fundraising is causing "confusion" over Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules for the "exploratory" status.

CQ Politics reports, "Friends of Fred Thompson" also is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a “527” political organization, so named because it is regulated under Section 527 of the tax code." Once Thompson decides to become a candidate, he must then meet FEC disclosure requirements. CQ Politics noted, "two issues — whether Thompson has raised more money than could be expected to be used for exploratory activities, and whether his months of 'testing the waters' have been a 'protracted period of time' as outlined by federal law as qualifying someone as a candidate — Thompson could have trouble." According to Paul Ryan, FEC program director for the Campaign Legal Center, "Reasonable minds could disagree."

The Washington Post noted, "Campaign finance experts said yesterday that if Thompson were to wait until Sept. 6 to launch a campaign, he would be legally permitted to delay filing a finance report with the Federal Election Commission until Jan. 31." Nonetheless, "Thompson campaign officials stressed his commitment to disclosure."

In addition to the personnel changes previously reported, today a top fundraising consultant, Kim Kaegi, resigned from the Thompson campaign. According to the AP, "Kaegi called it a 'stretch' to speculate that her departure was related to lower-than-expected totals."

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