In going after the issue-advocacy groups known as 527 committees, the Federal Election Commission is bipartisan. Two of these committees -- one Republican, one Democratic -- are facing fines from the FEC, perhaps meant to send a message to similar groups about how they should conduct themselves in the 2008 election cycle. Both the progressive America Coming Together and conservative Citizens Club for Growth went beyond their scope as 527 committees during recent elections, the FEC said, spending money beyond just "generic" activities, such as voter drives, and instead targeting individual candidates. America Coming Together, a group backed by major Democratic supporter George Soros, agreed to pay a $775,000 fine last week for spending money in 2004 on political ads and telemarketing. Although this is the FEC's third-largest fine in its history, it's just a drop in the bucket for ACT, which raised $79.8 million in 2004 -- more than any other group that cycle. Citizens Club for Growth agreed to a $350,000 penalty for failing to register as a political committee between 2000 and 2004, when the FEC claims the group spent at least $1.28 million to support or oppose the election of specific candidates for federal office. Club for Growth spent $7.2 million in the 2006 election cycle.
*Announcement of the FEC's settlement with America Coming Together: www.fec.gov/press
*Profile of America Coming Together's 2004 activity: www.opensecrets.org
*Announcement of the FEC's settlement with Citizens Club for Growth: www.fec.gov/press
* Profile of Citizens Club for Growth's 2006 activity: www.opensecrets.org