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Lazio Campaign Ad May Violate Terms of Soft Money Ban

Aired October 6, 2000 - 2:54 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: During their high-profile debate in New York, Republican Rick Lazio proposed to Hillary Rodman Clinton, let's make a deal on soft money. They made a deal, and now it may be unraveling.

Here is CNN's Frank Buckley in New York.

What's going on, Frank?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, this is a ban that's been in place for a couple of weeks now.

And, just to back up for a second, the ban was on soft money and outside money being used in the New York Senate race. Soft money is that unregulated political money that is not hard money -- it's not subject to contribution limits in the same way that hard money is.

There was an agreement that, effectively, neutralized for the Lazio campaign Hillary Clinton's soft money account. She had raised a lot more in the way of soft money than Rick Lazio had been able to raise in the short time that he has been in this race.

But this new ad, that just began appearing this week in New York, which we'd like to show you, seems to, according to the Clinton campaign, violate that ad. It says, paid for by Lazio 2000 and the Republican National committee -- the Republican National Committee being outside money.

This morning, the Clinton campaign called a news conference to discuss their feelings about this ad. They are saying that this ad was clearly a violation of the soft money and outside money ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We wanted to make clear today that, not only is it a violation, but we are also troubled by the method in which this occurred.

In other words, these ads were first unveiled with great fanfare as Lazio campaign ads paid with Lazio campaign dollars. And then, in midstream, some of the ads were converted to Republican National Committee ads -- a rather brazen act. And that clearly constitutes a violation of this agreement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: Now, we just got off a conference call with Mike Murphy, a senior campaign strategist for the Lazio campaign and others who are part of the campaign. Their response with regard to that allegation: that it was some sort of a switch that was made; it was, in fact, just an oversight, a cosmetic oversight.

They believe that this was something that had been allowed all along; and to be clear, this is not something that was illegal, this is a legal expenditure of money. The Lazio campaign's belief is that all along, the Clinton campaign also planned to use similar kinds of money -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Frank Buckley in New York.

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