For Immediate Release
Dec. 13, 2006
Contact: Mike Russell
703-683-5004 - Ext. 109
Washington, DC – Despite recent action from the FEC that is an aggressive move to impugn the First Amendment (free speech) rights of citizens, the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth settled a dispute concerning an FEC allegation that it and other 527 organizations should have registered as political committees in 2004. The FEC action includes the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth and other 527 organizations including MoveOn.org and the League of Conservation Voters. The agreement also requires that the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth file with the FEC its Internal Revenue Service reports that have been publicly available since 2004 along with a 2-page FEC summary.
In the settlement agreement the FEC made it abundantly clear that Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth were operating in good faith based on its understanding of the law at the time. In addition, the FEC voted to take no action against any individual members of the group. The Swift Boat Veterans agreed to settle this dispute without any finding of probable cause that the group violated the Federal Election Campaign Act or the McCain-Feingold amendments to it. The Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth raised more than $25 million in the 2004 election cycle and has agreed to pay a fine of just under $300,000 (roughly 1% of the amount it raised) to settle the matter.
The agreement signed by the FEC and Swift Boat Veterans states: "Following an investigation, the Commission concluded that SwiftVets did not unlawfully coordinate its activities with, or make excessive in-kind contributions to, any federal candidate or political party committee...
"The Commission has never alleged that the SwiftVets acted in knowing defiance of the law, or with the conscious recognition that their actions were prohibited by law, made no findings or conclusions that there were any knowing and willful violations of the law in connection with this matter, and, thus, does not challenge SwiftVets' assertion of its good faith reliance on its understanding of the law.
"Solely for the purpose of settling this matter expeditiously and avoiding litigation, without admission with respect to any other proceeding, and with no finding of probable cause by the Commission, SwiftVets agrees not to contest the Commission's conclusions."
"It is far better to end this legal confrontation now rather than continue a costly battle against government bureaucrats in an area where the law is unconscionably vague," said Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann, founder of the Swift Boat Veterans and POW's for Truth. "Despite the opinions of reputable legal counsel who believe that the Swift Boat Veterans would win on this issue in court, we are settling this dispute now so the bulk of our remaining cash can go to financially assist seriously wounded veterans," Hoffmann added.
"To date, an associated but financially independent foundation from the Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, has distributed $1,800,000 to 225 seriously wounded service men and women who face great financial challenges in rebuilding their lives. These vets have suffered severe, lifelong disabilities in service to our nation and they deserve our financial support and eternal gratitude," Hoffmann added.
The Swift Boat 527 organization has long ceased activity but its members are holding open their option to reform as a political action committee to re-engage in voter education if warranted.