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DNC Urges End To Soft Money Contributions


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 6) -- Embroiled in charges of campaign fund-raising abuses, Democratic National Committee officials have challenged Republicans to support a proposed ban on "soft money" contributions.

"There is no doubt that the next Congress will have campaign finance reform high on its agenda," DNC co-chairmen Don Fowler and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) wrote Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, in a letter they made public. "But we don't have to wait for legislation to make a difference."

The letter proposes that Democrats and Republicans agree to voluntarily end soft money, which are funds raised by the political parties and spent, ostensibly, only for party building efforts and not for direct support of federal candidates. In practice, such donations allow businesses and individuals to skirt the $1,000 cap on contributions to federal campaigns.

Both parties raised unprecedented amounts this year with Republicans taking in $121 million, compared with $102 million for the Democrats.

Fowler and Dodd also proposed banning gifts from the U.S. subsidiaries of international companies and from non-U.S. citizens with permanent residency in the United States. Currently, the Federal Election Commission is investigating questionable donations to the DNC from non-U.S. sources.

DNC officials have proposed these reforms in recent weeks but, so far, Barbour has refused to endorse them. The RNC chief says campaign finance reform should begin by banning labor unions from spending compulsory member dues on political activities, an idea Democrats reject.

But if union spending goes unchecked, many Republicans say that agreeing to a soft money ban amounts to unilateral disarmament. In an effort to return control of Congress to the Democrats, labor unleashed a $35 million election-year ad campaign targetting Republicans.

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