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Common Cause Hits Reno On Fund-Raising

FEC report shows GOP receiving more PAC contributions than Dems

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 23) -- Attorney General Janet Reno is taking more heat, this time from the campaign watchdog group Common Cause which says she has opened the door to further campaign law violations.

Republicans have been hammering Reno for her refusal last week to seek an independent investigation into Democratic fund-raising. "At the present time, we lack specific and credible evidence suggesting that these activities violated the [Federal Election Campaign Act]," Reno wrote senators.

But at a news conference today, Common Cause president Ann McBride said Reno's interpretation of the law would allow candidates the use of unlimited funding from corporations or unions.


McBride said both major parties used so-called "soft-money" -- unrestricted donations intended for party-building activities only -- for ads that clearly promoted President Bill Clinton or Republican nominee Bob Dole.

"This money was raised in direct violation of the act's contribution limits and prohibitions, and was spent in direct violation of the presidential election spending limits," McBride told reporters.

McBride said that campaign ads funded by the two major parties were "conducted, directed and controlled by the Clinton and Dole presidential campaigns for the purpose of influencing the presidential elections, with the political parties serving as mere conduits."

"If the Department of Justice allows these practices to go unchallenged, they will become commonplace in future elections, and the department will be writing out of existence fundamental anti-corruption statutes that have been on the books for decades," McBride said.

Separately, the Federal Election Commission reported that political action committees (PACs) of corporations, unions and special interest groups are currently giving disproportionately to congressional Republicans over Democrats.

It seems to be yet another demonstration of the power of incumbency. Democrats for years have received more financial support from PACs, but since Republicans gained a majority in Congress that trend has reversed itself.

According to the FEC report, PACs contributed $217.8 million to federal candidates over 1995 and 1996, up 15 percent over the 1993-1004 election cycle. Of that, $115.8 million went to Republican congressional candidates while Democratic hopefuls received $98.8 million.

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