Swift Boat Veterans 2.0

How new freelance groups are back on the attack

In 2004 a small ad campaign by an obscure organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smeared John Kerry's Vietnam War record and dealt his campaign a blow from which it never fully recovered. The episode demonstrated the new power of independent political organizations, known as 527s or 501(c)s for the sections of the tax code under which they operate. These groups function outside the campaign-finance laws. Among other things, most can collect unlimited contributions.

Given the stakes and the expected closeness of this fall's election, it is no surprise that a new generation of them has mobilized in recent months....

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