updated 8/24/2004 7:59:14 PM ET 2004-08-24T23:59:14

In recent weeks, we’ve been talking a lot on this program about 527s. That’s a reference to groups like the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth… groups that claim to be independent from the candidates, and fall under a particular section of the IRS code. But as you can imagine, 527s have created quite a debate.

Despite all of the attention to these ads attacking John Kerry’s service in Vietnam, independent Republican groups have actually been far outspent by independent Democratic Groups.

Disclosure reports show the leading Republican 527s, including the Club for Growth, by the Republican National Committee and Americans for a Better Country have together spent about $12 million.

The top Democratic 527s, including the Media Fund, Americans coming Together, and, have together spent about $69 million.

And it’s not just a financial difference, it’s also a big difference in style.

Today, released 10 new ads. The ads were created by some of Hollywood’s best, including director Rob Reiner, writer Aaron Sorkin, with narrations from actors like Matt Damon.

The effort by is part of a 10-week effort to energize Democrats and register new voters. And even Republicans acknowledge the Democrats have done a better job raising money and organizing the 527s for the election.

It’s one of the reasons President Bush this week, when asked about the specific attacks on John Kerry, offered this:  “I don’t think we ought to have 527s. I can’t be more plain about it. I hope my opponent joins me in saying, condemning these activities of the 527s.”

Kerry though, has not. President Bush has an edge with direct campaign contributions. The Bush-Cheney ticket spent $46 million last month, and will burn through money at about the same record clip until the Republican convention.

After the convention, the president will join John Kerry in being limited to spending only money provided by the Federal government. But there are few limits when it comes to the 527s… and that’s where Democrats hope to press their advantage.


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