What's a 527 organization?
After the jump, what this filing can tell us about this new organization that wants to change Richardson's city charter.A 527 organization or 527 group is a type of American tax-exempt organization named after Section 527 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 527). A 527 group is created primarily to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office.
Technically, almost all political committees, including state, local, and federal candidate committees, traditional political action committees, "Super PACs", and political parties are "527s." However, in common practice the term is usually applied only to such organizations that are not regulated under state or federal campaign finance laws because they do not "expressly advocate" for the election or defeat of a candidate or party. When operated within the law, there are no upper limits on contributions to 527s and no restrictions on who may contribute. There are no spending limits imposed on these organizations; however, they must register with the IRS, publicly disclose their donors and file periodic reports of contributions and expenditures.
Unfortunately, there's not much to learn from the form 8871. For purpose of the organization, the filing states, "This organization is dedicated to amending the Richardson City Charter so that its citizens can vote directly for a Mayor."
The filing lists only one "officer, director, and highly compensated employee." That's Chris Cutrone, of Austin, Texas, who is listed as the Executive Director. Cutrone was the Deputy Press Secretary for Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick before Craddick was ousted from that position in January, 2009. More recently, LinkedIn contains this biographical information for Cutrone:
Why Cutrone, who lives in Austin and has a history of involvement in Republican state politics, is the Executive Director of a 527 aiming to change the city charter of Richardson is unexplained. Maybe he is solely a hired hand, as his LinkedIn biography suggests. But if so, who hired him? Alan North? We may have to wait for the 527's filing of Form 8872, "Political Organization Report of Contributions and Expenditures" to learn the answer. "More Democratic Government" doesn't necessarily mean open and transparent politics.Talented and creative communications specialist experienced in media relations, research and analysis, campaign and event management, and communications strategy and development serves clients in public and government relations for domestic and international marketplaces.
Some critics of Richardson's current method of selecting the mayor don't like the fact that deliberations occur in secret executive session. It would be ironic if the referendum to change all that is organized, led and funded by methods that are only revealed after the petition signatures will have already been collected and maybe even voted on.