A new anti-abortion group has its sights set beyond just running ads and launching viral Internet attacks on Barack Obama. The group wants to overturn the federal election law that could rein in not only its own activities but those of any so-called issue advocacy groups.
Behind the effort is one James Bopp, a Terre Haute, Indiana, lawyer who’s spearheaded a string of challenges to state and federal campaign finance laws as well as efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade. On July 30, Bopp filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission on behalf of a new group, The Real Truth About Obama, which had filed papers with the IRS just a day earlier, registering as a nonprofit political advocacy group.
Bopp’s suit, filed in federal court in Virginia, argues that such issue advocacy groups should not be governed by FEC regulations, which means they’d have the ability to raise unlimited sums from donors and face zero restrictions on advertising close to an election.
In the 2004 election, issue advocacy groups like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth played a major role in dictating election talking points without facing FEC restrictions. But two years later, the FEC ultimately fined the Swift Boat group and others, ruling that they should have been regulated as political action committees because their major purpose was influencing the election. Bopp is asking the court to rule such restrictions are an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.
Among the activities planned by Real Truth: sending out a weekly “Obamabortion” Internet postcard featuring an actor with “an Obama-like voice.” He would be “perhaps flanked by flags, and mouthing the satirical rhetoric which exposes not only the extremeness of his positions, but also the apparent contradictions,” according to an Internet strategy the group included in its court filings. In the complaint, the group, which says it has reserved the domain therealtruthaboutobama.com, argues it is “chilled from proceeding with these activities” out of fear of falling under FEC jurisdiction of federal PACs.
Bopp supported Mitt Romney in the Republican primary and, ironically, has vigorously litigated for years to overturn the campaign finance law authored by the candidate who bested Romney in the primaries, John McCain. Bopp now says he is a McCain supporter.
Phone calls and e-mails to Bopp and the group’s officers were not returned.