This is going to get ugly
House Republicans took aim yesterday at the fundraising vehicle that Democrats hope will help them equalize the money battle in the upcoming campaign -- organizations dubbed in political circles as "527s" or "501s," for sections of the tax code.
Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee, was granted the power to subpoena leader of six organizations seeking to mobilize voters in support of Democratic candidates after they refused to appear before the committee. Ney said they had "thumbed their noses" at the panel but declined to say whether he would exercise his subpoena power.
Democrats on the committee immediately warned that if Ney does so, they will try to shift the focus of future hearing to charges that Republican House leaders have performed legislative favors in return for contributions from pharmaceutical companies and utilities.
Don't put it past Ney to use this subpoena power to harass any organization that deigns to oppose Bush's re-election, regardless of whether they are doing anything suspicious. They will subpoena them to testify and the news will be reported in such a way as to imply that they must be doing something wrong.
After all, if they were clean they wouldn't be subpoenaed would they?
(BTW, I've been thinking for months that the Republicans would eventually try to cast suspicion on Dean's fundraising success. I certainly hope the campaign's finance people are keeping good records. I can see the October 2004 headlines now, "Dean campaign focus of finance inquiries".)