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House Administration Sets Hearing on 527s

With reports proliferating of new organizations designed to pump large chunks of unregulated money into the political system, the House Administration Committee will convene a hearing next week to examine the activities of so-called 527 groups.

The hearing, scheduled for next Thursday morning, will look at entities such as the New House PAC, the Democratic Senate Majority Fund and the Leadership Forum that have sprung up since the passage of campaign reform legislation and have worked to raise soft money to fund grassroots efforts.

The New House PAC and the DSMF each have hard and soft money components.

“In recent months, many of us in the Congress have watched with increasing concern as organizations have been formed in the wake of BCRA with the apparent intent of using soft money to influence federal elections — something which the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act purported to ban,” Ney said in a statement.

Ney has not yet compiled a witness list for Thursday’s hearing, but sources said the list could include Howard Wolfson — the former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee who co-founded the New House PAC — and Susan Hirschmann — the Leadership Forum co-founder who previously served as chief of staff to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

House Administration ranking member John Larson (D-Conn.) has not yet decided on a witness list, either, though he is expected to take a close look at Republican fundraising groups.

“Planning is under way on our side,” said Larson spokeswoman Elizabeth Bellizzi. “We are gearing up.”

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