Skip to comments.Broad effort emerges to help Democrats skirt campaign law
Posted on 08/15/2003 7:12:52 PM PDT by DPB101
Democratic-leaning interest groups are emerging as a "shadow party" working to raise millions of dollars to try to defeat President Bush while working around a new law designed to take big money out of politics.
Unlike national party committees, the groups can accept soft money - donations from corporations and unions and unlimited contributions from any source - for next year's election.
"Welcome to campaign finance reform," said Harold Ickes, a former Clinton administration adviser taking part in the effort. "The genesis of all these new groups in large measure is the need to raise soft money and to do whatever they can do in terms of voter mobilization, within the bounds of the law."
While Democrats were key supporters of the new law, its ban on soft money has so far hit them harder than the GOP.
In the last election cycle, for example, the Republican National Committee raised about $170 million in "hard money" and $114 million in soft money, while the DNC collected about $68 million in hard money and $95 million in soft.
Since the law took effect in November, the national parties can collect only hard money: limited donations from individuals and political action committees. From January through June, the RNC raised about $55 million, the DNC $18 million.
Democrats expect President Bush to dwarf their presidential hopefuls' funding by collecting $250 million for the primaries, with the RNC raising at least another $250 million for the 2004 election, Ickes said.
The emerging network of Democratic-leaning groups covers a range of interests and spending:
America Coming Together will register voters and urge them to the polls in presidential battleground states. Its projected $75 million in funding includes a $10 million pledge from multibillionaire George Soros and $8 million from labor groups.
Another group will coordinate presidential get-out-the-vote spending among the new voter outreach group and trial lawyer, labor, environmental, abortion rights and civil rights groups.
A media fund planned by Ickes will raise money for ads on Democratic issues, focusing on the presidency.
New Senate and House groups will try to win Democratic control of Congress.
A new think tank will promote Democratic policy views.
The Democratic National Committee also may benefit: Some groups are considering tapping the DNC's database of possible donors to raise money for themselves, then giving the DNC the names of those who do contribute, Ickes said.
Prospecting for new donors, often done through mailings, can cost millions of dollars. To comply with Federal Election Commission rules, such arrangements between the DNC and outside groups would have to be even exchanges or paid for at fair market value, among other conditions.
Under the law, groups that raise soft money must operate independent of the parties. But many of the new Democratic-leaning groups are run by partisan activists and former party operatives who know the needs of the party and its candidates well.
Party leaders aren't unaware of the efforts. America Coming Together president Ellen Malcolm, for example, said she phoned DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe last week to tell him about the group.
DNC spokesman Tony Welch said the groups are independent of the party, and declined to comment on them. "Even some favorable comment, I would assume, can be interpreted as support," he said.
Republicans, too, are helped by special-interest spending, such as business groups organizing employer get-out-the-vote efforts, and have formed groups that can raise soft money.
They include The Leadership Forum, run by a former chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas; the National Committee for a Responsible Senate; the Republican State Leadership Committee, focused on state and local elections; and the Republican Governors Association, which detached itself from the RNC so it could raise soft money.
The Democratic effort so far appears broader. Democrats and Republicans say the GOP has less need for new outside groups because it can raise millions more than Democrats in hard money.
"They'd better be doing something on the other side because their party committees are basically dead at this point," said Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, former head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "I think what you're going to see is a lot of money unreported, going out to the fringes of politics, that used to go to the parties."
Davis accused Democrats of "trying to evade the law they championed."
Malcolm said that isn't true: "The law was passed and we're doing exactly what the law says. A political action committee can raise both hard and soft money."
Soft-money groups can finance voter outreach and ads that mention federal candidates. They cannot use corporate or union funds for broadcast ads identifying federal candidates in the weeks right before an election. They can use big individual donations to run such ads anytime if they keep the money separate, disclose the spending and do not call for a candidate's election or defeat, the FEC said.
Hmmm... TVC15 Since Aug 15, 2003
You signed up today and comment about DPB101's post who signed up over 3 month ago?
Did anybody really expect CFR to "work"?
There is no way to take money out of politics. The law only drove it underground -- out of public view, where the Democrats can find more ways to cheat.
Thank you, John McCain...you ninny!
I recall somebody pointing this out at the time the bill was being debated -- that it was open to these kinds of shenanigans. George Will?
Seems to me Limbaugh picked up on the report, as well.
Just what we needed huh? Jerks!
Could be. My apology tvc15 and Welcome to Freerepublic.
And my liberal sister still insists they are for "the little people".
Fortunatly, she has no money to give them...
Show her the list below and if she gets any money, she won't give it.2002 Election cycle. Donations to Democrats:
Haim Saban: $12. 3 millionThere must be some but I can't find any Republican who writes out checks like the above to the GOP. The largest single exclusively GOP donor I can find is "Texans for John Cornyn" (whatever that is) which gave $3.1 million in 2002.
Fred Eychaner, :$7.4 million
Steven Bing: $7.1 million
Steve Kirsch: $3.3 million
Bernard Schwartz:$2.3 million
Jon Corzine: $2.1 million
Melvin Simon:$2 million
Peter Angelos: $1.8 million
John O'Quinn: $1.8 million
Daniel Abraham: $1.4 million
Charles Kuscher:$1.4 million
Carl Lindner:$1.3 million
Donald Sussman:$1.2 million
Robert Johnson:$1.1 million
Unfortunately, she and many others like her do have votes to give them.
As with all liberals, though, it is a article of religious faith and dogma: "The Democrats are for the little people".
Even the truth won't confuse them...
Bu...bu...but I thought the Clintons were friends, nay, the champions of "the little people"...the...the...they..."felt out pain"!
Did you read the article about the White House tailor? He has tailored clothing for Presidents since LBJ. The only Presidents who treated him with genuine respect were Nixon, Reagan and GWB. GHWB was respectful, but "remote".
On the other hand, Jimmy Carter was "mean" and Bill Clinton "ignored me, like I didn't exist".
No. It was designed to fail. Thereby making an argument "easier" for their real goal: Total federal control and funding of all national campaigns. Translation: taxpayer-paid campaigns, for candidates the taxpayer(s) may oppose.