The Ron Paul Party?

The crazy uncle’s influence on US conservative politics is definitely increasing. CQ Politics reports on growing GOP support for Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ Bill.

He may have faded from the national political scene a year ago, after his dark-horse presidential run came to naught, but Rep. Ron Paul ’s influence is still being felt in campaigns and policy debates across the country. Indeed, the latest legislative priority of the libertarian Texas Republican — auditing the Federal Reserve — has gained support in unlikely quarters.

Paul’s legislation, popularly known as the “Audit the Fed” bill, has drawn 244 cosponsors, ranging from Ohio’s John A. Boehner , the conservative Republican floor leader, to Michigan’s John Conyers Jr. , the liberal Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Some Democrats have even picked up on Paul’s rhetoric. “It’s time to yank the shroud off the Fed and shine some light on these events,” New York Democrat Edolphus Towns , chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said at a hearing last week about the shotgun marriage between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch last fall to stave off the latter’s collapse.

Paul’s efforts have only gained in political significance since the Obama administration unveiled its proposal to give the Fed new powers over the financial regulatory system.

At the heart of Paul’s anti-Fed crusade, as well as his other ventures, is the grass-roots lobbying organization Campaign for Liberty, a home base for his fervent band of presidential supporters. The organization was launched just over a year ago with cash left over from his bid for the GOP nomination. The 501(c)4 non-profit group claims a quarter-million members and says it has 20 full-time employees and coordinators in all 50 states.

According to spokesman Jesse Benton, Campaign for Liberty has raised approximately $3 million so far this year and plans “to spend millions of dollars educating as many Americans as possible on monetary policy.”

Paul is the organization’s honorary chairman, and though he has no official day-to-day duties, “we consult with him on every major move that we make,” Benton said.

Paul’s imprint is also seen on the 2010 campaign: At least five prospective candidates for the House and Senate are being dubbed the next generation of the Ron Paul movement, including his son and fellow physician Rand Paul. The younger Paul is considering a run for the Senate in Kentucky if incumbent Republican Jim Bunning decides not to run again.

But the potential candidate generating the most interest among Paul’s followers is Peter Schiff, who might join the increasingly crowded filed of Republicans wanting to take on Democratic Sen. Christopher J. Dodd in Connecticut.

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