Brian McCabe is a conservative political strategist, a partner in the Republican political consulting firm DCI Group, and the president of Progress for America. PFA and DCI have close ties, since Progress for America's fund-raising and ad buying is run by employees of DCI Group. A 1991 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, McCabe splits his time between Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire, where he also heads a news-clipping service called Custom Scoop.
McCabe started his career in politics working for US Congressman Bill Zeliff (R-NH).
During the 1996 NH Presidential primary, McCabe was in charge of the campaign of Bob Dole.
During the 2004 Presidential Election, many Republicans criticized Democrats for exploiting a loophole in campaign finance law using so-called using 527 groups. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, passed by Congress in 2002, was intended to limit the influence of corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals by putting strict limits on their contributions to any candidate, political party, or PAC. For example, in 2004 the maximum individual donation to a US presidential candidate was $2,000.
Such limits do not apply, however, to a "527" group like MoveOn.org that maintains independence from regulated committees and does not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate.
Brian McCabe, identified in news reports at that time as President of the Progress for America Voters' Fund, was a primary public spokesperson for the Republican shift from decrying liberals' use of 527s and start their own. "We felt it was imperative that we engage in the debate and help level the playing field to counter what the liberal 527s have done over the past year, beating up President Bush", he told reporters in August 2004.
In May 2004, the Federal Election Commission announced that it would not rule on the legality of the 527 groups until after the 2004 Presidential election. In October, McCabe said that his creation of PFA's 527 was in direct response to that decision by the FEC. By October, 2004, McCabe and the PFA Voters' Fund had raised $32 million, including $5 million each from just two people: Dawn Arnall, the wife of Ameriquest Corp. chairman Roland Arnall, and Alex Spanos, who owns the San Diego Chargers.
The PFA Voters' Fund spent more than $20 million on television ad campaigns, including one called "Ashley's Story" which featured a 15-year-old Ohio girl (who lost her mother on September 11) hugging President Bush and saying, "All he wants to do is make sure I'm safe."
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, another Republican 527 group during the 2004 campaign, had close ties both to DCI Group and to Progress for America through McCabe's colleague Chris LaCivita.