Bush, GOP accuse Kerry campaign of funneling ï¿½soft moneyï¿½ into election
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bushï¿½s campaign and the GOP on Wednesday accused Democrat John Kerryï¿½s campaign of illegally coordinating political ads and get-out-the-vote activities with independent groups.
The Bush campaign and RNC said they would file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Kerry and pro-Kerry groups of violating a campaign law that broadly bans the use of ï¿½soft moneyï¿½ï¿½corporate, union and unlimited individual donationsï¿½to influence federal elections.
The Bush campaign and GOP say pro-Kerry groups are illegally spending soft money in the presidential race, and that Kerryï¿½s campaign is illegally coordinating that spending. The groups have contended they are operating legally.
Groups such as the MoveOn.org Voter Fund and the Media Fund, which work on behalf of Democrats but independently of the Kerry campaign, have been running ads this month criticizing Bush in several battleground states. Kerry, too, has been airing ads in key states, but on a much smaller scale.
The coordination complaint is the second the Bush campaign has filed against the groups.
The campaign in early March asked the FEC to investigate soft money spending by the Media Fund on anti-Bush ads. The Media Fund, using large individual donations to fund its ads, argues its activities are legal.
When the Media Fund and MoveOn ran ads in mid-March, the Bush campaign called them ï¿½bitter partisan groups.ï¿½ The two groups have helped Democrats match Bush ad for ad in key media markets.
The Republican complaints come as the commission considers placing broad new limits on soft money spending by tax-exempt political groups.
Its decision could have the greatest short-term effect on Democrats, whose party depended more heavily on soft money than the GOP did before the law banned national party committees from collecting it.
The Republican Party collects millions of dollars more than the Democratic Party in limited donations from individuals allowed under the law. Bush, meanwhile, has raised more than $170 million, more than twice as much as Kerry has.
Trying to counter those advantages, several Democratic activists set up partisan groups to spend soft money after the law banned the parties from doing so in November 2002.
Campaign finance watchdogs often call such groups ï¿½shadow partiesï¿½ because they have taken on types of spending the parties used to have soft money to finance, such as get-out-the-vote drives and political ads.
Republicans have also created such groups, but so far they have not been as prolific in their efforts as Democrats have.