TALLAHASSEE — The stealthy political group coming to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum’s rescue this week, Alliance for America’s Future, is fighting a court battle against Nevada’s secretary of state for wading into a gubernatorial contest there without registering as a PAC with the state.
The third-party organization is airing ads in Florida attacking GOP candidate Rick Scott over his past at Columbia/HCA and the company’s record, $1.7 billion in Medicare fraud fines.
But in Florida, the group currently doesn’t have to disclose its activities because a federal judge last year threw out the state’s electioneering communications law. In fact, the organization might be setting a new low for skirting public disclosure in a Florida statewide contest. The group apparently hasn’t registered with Florida’s Division of Elections, or the Federal Election Commission. And it doesn’t have to. But it also hasn’t registered with the IRS as a so-called “527″ political organization, at least according to our quick search of the IRS database.
There’s a bit of irony here, considering the group is trying to help a candidate in McCollum who has been preaching the virtues of public disclosure, from posting online the contingency fee-agreements with outside lawyers hired by the state to retaining text-messages and e-mails of state employees.
Disclosure might not be an issue, except that Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that would have restored the reporting requirements of such groups, and will have to decide the fate of another bill that would re-institute the disclosure requirement.
That might come too late to shed much light on the Alliance, though.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza notes on his blog that the Virginia-based group ”is led by GOP consultant Barry Bennett, a former chief of staff to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio). Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, and his former political director, Kara Ahern, are also reportedly involved in the group.”
Here’s the ad: