Doubling jeopardy

I have temporarily removed the link that has been at the top of my sidebar for several months, allowing you to contribute to the John Edwards campaign via ActBlue, and for now I urge you to make your contributions directly through John Edwards’ website.

This comes on the heels of news that the Federal Election Commission may publish an opinion that would treat ActBlue like other political action committees and disqualify ActBlue contributions from eligibility for federal matching funds. As you may know, John Edwards, alone among the major presidential contenders, has opted for voluntary spending caps in order to qualify for public campaign financing funds. Small, private donations made directly to the campaign are matched by public funds, doubling their effectiveness. Until this news, ActBlue users believed the same was true of their donations; now this is in doubt.

ActBlue and other organizations like it are not political action committees in the conventional sense; they do not do their own fundraising. Instead they are conduits providing a convenient technical mechanism for individual contributions directly to the campaigns they support. There are just a few days in which to influence the FEC to choose this interpretation of the governing regulations.

I wrote to the Edwards campaign and asked their advice. Here was their response:

I would encourage you to make your remaining contributions directly through our website. As you can imagine we are deeply disappointed with the FEC’s potential decision as we view ACTBlue as a valuable resource.

So though I am a big believer in ActBlue I reluctantly urge you to avoid it for donations to the Edwards campaign, at least until this issue is settled. And regardless of how you feel about John Edwards, it’s a fact that public financing of political campaigns is the best chance we have of reducing corruption in politics, so please do as I have done and urge the FEC not to nip it in the bud with this anti-small-donor policy. Here’s the letter I just sent to Mary Dove, Secretary of the FEC:

To: Mary Dove <>
Subject: ActBlue et al.

Dear Ms. Dove,

I am a private individual who occasionally donates small amounts of money to favored political candidates through I learned recently that your Draft Opinion 2007-31 would disqualify such contributions from eligibility for public matching funds (where such contributions would otherwise be eligible).

I made my donations in the full expectation that they would be treated exactly like small, private donations made directly to the candidates. I daresay that was the expectation of the overwhelming majority of ActBlue users.

I therefore urge you to support “Draft A” of Opinion 2007-27, which would affirm that expectation, and to reject Draft Opinion 2007-31.

Sincerely, [name and address]

If you write your own letter, keep it short, to the point, and polite, and include your name and address.

You can find out more about this issue at these links:

Update 14-Dec: The good guys lost.

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