Economic Freedom Fund
The Economic Freedom Fund (EFF) is a 527 group started in 2006 by Bob J. Perry, with a $5 million donation. Only one person is officially associated with the group: Charles H. Bell Jr., a lawyer from California, who is the general counsel for the California Republican Party, and the Republican National Lawyers Association's vice president for the election education advisory council.
EFF says its aim is to "educate the public concerning issues related to the preservation of economic freedom, the promotion of economic growth and prosperity for the people of the United States of America."
Focus of efforts
- John Barrow (D-GA)
- Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
- Baron Hill (challenger in Indiana's 9th District)
- Jim Marshall (D-GA)
- Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
- Darlene Hooley (D-OR)
In September 2006, the group may have violated a 1988 Indiana law that bars companies from placing a prerecorded, automated call to a person unless a real person, in a live conversation, first speaks and gets permission to play the recorded portion of the call. The calls were in support of incumbent Representative Mike Sodrel, and were a classic push poll, designed to smear Sodrel's opponent, Baron Hill, while appearing to be a legitimate survey. After at least seven complaints were made to the state attorney general's office, the campaign notified the office that they had halted the calls. The Indiana law allows for a penalty of up to $5,000 per violation (per call made, not per complaint).
In late September, FreeEats.com, the northern Virginia company that makes automated political phone calls, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Indianapolis, asking that the court direct the Indiana attorney general to stop enforcing the state law. The company argued that the state law violated free speech rights under the United States and Indiana constitutions, and that the ban was an unconstitutional restraint on interstate commerce.
Indiana attorney general Steve Carter sued the EFF earlier in September, in Brown County Circuit Court after receiving 12 consumer complaints about the calls. The state's lawsuit seeks injunctions to stop them and fines of $5,000 for each violation. A hearing in the case is set for September 27.
- Federal Elections Commission filing, September 13, 2006, by the EFF
- Paul Kiel, "Swift Boat Redux: Wealthy GOP Donor Drops $5 Mil for New Group", TPMMuckracker.com, September 14, 2006
- Rich Hardwick, "Truth Test: Hidden Republicans Attack Marshall", WMAZ news, Macon, Georgia, September 7, 2006
- 527 Committee Activity: Top 50 Federally Focused Organizations, opensecrets.com, accessed September 15, 2006
- About the EFF, accessed September 15, 2006
- EFF direct mail and television advertisements, EFF website, accessed September 20, 2006
- Paul Kiel, "GOP Attack Group Hits 2nd Georgia Dem", TPMMuckracker.com, September 20, 2006
- EFF ad, accessed October 4, 2006
- Mary Beth Schneider, "Automated call gets a lot of static: Dems contact attorney general's office", September 14, 2006
- Paul Kiel, "Shadowy 527 Behind Calls Hitting Democrats in Several States", TPMMuckracker.com, September 14, 2006
- Paul Kiel, "Indiana Sues Swift Boater's New Attack Group", TPMMuckracker.com, September 18, 2006
- Deanna Martin, "Virginia company sues Ind. over automated phone call ban", Associated Press, September 22, 2006