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The Media Fund is a 527 group, active in U.S. politics, which supported Democrat John Kerry's campaign for President. It was formed in 2002, and is led by Harold M. Ickes, a former aide to President Bill Clinton. Its chief fundraiser is Ellen Malcolm, a former fundraiser for EMILY's List. Billionaire George Soros was among the largest donors to the Fund. According to the New York Times, the Media Fund raised $45 million to run issue ads in key swing states. The Media Fund is one of several 527 groups which supported Kerry; others include America Coming Together and MoveOn.org. After the election, the group experienced a dramatic drop in fundraising success; media reports speculated that major donors had given up on the organization, and were turning their attention to other, more long-term Democratic projects.
Following the campaign of John Kerry, the Federal Election Commission unanimously voted to levy a $580,000 fine against the Fund. The penalty was the seventh largest in FEC history. The FEC determined that more than 90 percent of the $60 million raised by the Media Fund came from labor unions, corporations or from donors who gave more $5,000 — all contributions barred by federal election rules. Lyn Utrecht represented the Media Fund in the settlement. Erik Smith, president of the Media Fund, would later issue a statement pointing out that the FEC settlement did not find his group in violation of the law. The FEC had already fined a number of the other major 527s for illegal spending during the 2004 elections, including the Democratic-leaning groups MoveOn.org and the George Soros-backed America Coming Together, as well as the Republican-supporting groups Progress for America Voter Fund and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
- "California Group Steps into Vacuum on Left", Washington Post, by Thomas B. Edsall and Chris Cillizza, October 23, 2005
- "FEC slaps Media Fund with huge fine", Politico, by Kenneth Vogel, December 19, 2007
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