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Reports show GOP prepared for soft-money ban

From Robert Yoon
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The ban on so-called "soft money," now headed for White House approval after passing the Senate 60-40, will not dramatically hinder Republican Party fundraising efforts, according to reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Republican National Committee had $37 million in the bank at the end of February, all of it in federally regulated "hard money," and has raised $22 million in the first two months of this year. The RNC has raised nine "hard" dollars for every "soft" dollar raised this year. Over 80 percent of the $104 million that the RNC raised since January 2001 has been in "hard" dollars, according to the filings.

"There's a common perception that the parties are trying to load up on soft money before campaign finance reform, but that's clearly not the case for us," said Kevin Sheridan, an RNC spokesman.

Campaign finance reform legislation passed in the House last month and in the Senate Wednesday essentially bans "soft money," the unlimited and unregulated donations made by individuals, labor unions, and corporations to political parties. The parties can continue to raise "hard money," which is subject to federal contribution limits, under the legislation.

In recent years, the Republican Party has been much more successful in raising "hard" dollars than the Democratic Party.

The Democratic National Committee will not file its financial reports until next month, but according to their most recent report filed in January, almost half of the $46.5 million raised in 2001 was in soft dollars.

"Come 2004, I need to make up, I know, a hundred million dollars in soft money that the DNC raised in the 2000 presidential campaign. I know we have to make that up with federal money, and we are going to do it," said DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

The RNC received over 452,000 donations in January and February. The average contribution was $48.74.

"We're not pursuing a different fundraising plan [than the one] we've been pursing all along," said Sheridan.




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