Vote Set Thursday On Final Fund-Raising Report
By Candy Crowley/CNN
WASHINGTON (March 2) -- Republicans on the Senate's Governmental Affairs Committee are handing their final campaign fund-raising report over to panel Democrats Monday, paving the way for final committee action Thursday. The report was due Jan. 31.
GOP sources say the report will not include any specific names of
witnesses suspected of perjury before Sen. Fred Thompson's committee, known as "referrals." Instead, there will be a non-specific suggestion that the Justice Department look closely at some of the testimony.
A source familiar with the referrals debate says Republicans could not agree on many of the witnesses and in the end, the list of "referrals" was so small, the GOP members balked because they did not want to single anyone out.
A Democratic source suggests Republicans did not suggest any specific perjury investigations because no conclusive case could be presented. Said the source, " 'I can't recall' takes you a long way," referring to the number of witnesses who pleaded memory lapses.
Republicans insist the final report has changed very little from the
well-circulated draft report of several weeks ago. The source dismissed suggestions that a section dealing with Vice President Al Gore had been
watered down. Democrats insist that committee Republicans made major changes from the draft report to the final report in response to criticism that much of what was in the draft was not factual.
One of the final report's 14 recommendations is to "revisit" the Independent Act Counsel. Many Republicans are still fuming over Attorney General Janet Reno's refusal to appoint an independent counsel to look into campaign fund-raising and want a legislative remedy to address their concerns.
Other recommendations include: a requirement that publicly-funded presidential candidates certify that they have not conspired inappropriately with outside groups to get around contribution and spending limits; reform and restructure of the Federal Election Commission; and legislation to prevent the use of union dues for political purposes without the specific approval of union members.
A Republican source said the recommendations were the "significant" part of the majority report. Still, even those recommendations proved controversial. A source says Thompson had to include some of his recommendations in a separate report, because Republican colleagues would not agree to them.
It is all essentially a moot point anyway. Last week, the Senate abandoned efforts to reform the campaign finance system, effectively killing the issue for the year.
The Republican-written report was submitted to Democrats Monday, paving the way for final committee action Thursday. The report was due January 31.
The Democratic response has been written for weeks. The minority report will press the Democrats' long voiced view that they were treated unfairly.
Democrats will also spend a good deal of time refuting the Republican conclusions as well as attacking the campaign practices of several conservative groups. Preliminarily, Democrats decided not to make any "referrals", although the minority version will suggest that several aspects of the testimony of former RNC chairman Haley Barbour are worth Justice Department investigation for possible perjury.
The Thompson committee is expected to debate and vote on the final report Thursday. The vote is widely expected to be 9-7, strictly along party lines.