A battle between leaders of the two parties over campaign finance rules intensified this week as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused Republicans of flat-out threatening the Internal Revenue Service after they warned the agency not to tighten oversight of anonymous money groups misusing the tax code. The squabble is about how forcefully to crack down on groups approved under special 501(c)(4) tax status by claiming to primarily engage in “social welfare,” but which pour significant resources into political activities. Democrats want a strict cap on how much money they may spend for politics; Republicans prefer the ambiguity of the status quo. Beneath the issue is a sea of anonymous spending in which pro-GOP groups are drowning Democrats. By using 501(c)(4) status, these “political charities” are allowed to keep their donors anonymous, leaving voters unable to evaluate which interests might be funding ads or what their motives are.
Look no further than the Utah Republican Party convention over the weekend. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) took a strong majority of the vote and nearly avoided having to go to a June primary with his opponent — a good showing considering the position Hatch was in last year — and he did it in large part by running against outsiders who had come to Utah to unseat him. By the end of the campaign, polling showed that 62 percent of convention delegates had an unfavorable opinion of FreedomWorks, the main conservative group seeking to unseat Hatch, and 39 percent said their feelings were “very unfavorable” toward the group. The group, which played a major role in unseating Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) at the 2010 convention, had become a pariah and, undoubtedly, something of a boon to Hatch. One local columnist even suggested the group’s name was a “dirty word” in the Beehive State.
Utah: Hatch Forced Into Primary At Utah GOP Convention – 32 votes short | International Business Times
Veteran U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah will face a Republican primary fight after delegates to a party convention on Saturday denied him the nomination, forcing him into an election with a Tea Party-backed challenger who finished second. Hatch, 78, won the day over nine challengers, but narrowly fell short of reaching the 60 percent of the vote needed in a pairing against his number two challenger, Dan Liljenquist, to win the nomination outright and avoid the primary, Reuters reported. Heavily Republican Utah last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate more than four decades ago, so the Republican nominee is usually considered the presumptive winner of the general election. The nominating convention held in Sandy, Utah, marked a test for the continuing strength of Tea Party activists, who played a decisive role nationally in the 2010 mid-term elections and helped unseat then-Republican Senator Bob Bennett of Utah. In a final delegate vote on Saturday, Hatch took 59.2 percent of the votes to 40.8 percent for Liljenquist, a former state senator with a Tea Party following. Hatch was only 32 delegates short of getting the required 60 percent vote that would have allowed him to avoid a primary contest. A total of 3,908 delegates participated. In the first round, eight challengers were eliminated.