Is Freedom’s Watch Legal?

I’m reading what some Republican blogs are writing about the Republican front group called Freedom’s Watch, which is expected to spend as much as $250 million against Democrats in the coming election. Here is an example of a right-wing blog’s understanding of this group, writing about a December Congressional special election in Ohio: Meet the New "Bad Boys" of Conservative Politics: Freedoms Watch,

. . . Freedoms Watch, a new conservative powerhouse backed with funding rumored in the hundreds of millions of dollars, also showed up on the field of battle. And they brought something which we bloggers lack — money.
. . . Freedoms Watch is actually a 501(C)4 and not a 527. But seriously: $200 million to help defeat Democrats, folks. That’s going to change the landscape for 2008.
In fact, in the last few days of the campaign, Freedoms Watch aired this TV ad with a media buy rumored to be close to $500K in the Toledo, OH media market helping educate voters on the Democratic opponent, Robin Weirauch.
. . . Freedoms Watch is a new force in conservative politics and I’m glad that they showed up on the field to help us hold Ohio-5.

The understanding on the right is clear: Freedom’s Watch is a Republican “on the field” campaign organization, working to defeat Democratic candidates. There is simply no question about it. There isn’t even a wink and a nod going on here.
It is flat-out illegal for a C4 to be operating in campaigns or involved in electoral politics. But who is going to go anything about it?
James Boyce also has a post today following some of Freedom’s Watch’s money. And take a look at the Freedom’s Watch Newsladder.

m4s0n501

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