GOP Attacks 'Soft-Money' Loophole


The Republican Party is fighting for a quick court ruling to outlaw the controversial tactic liberal groups are using to pay for ads attacking President Bush.

The Republican National Committee Wednesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission but took the unusual step of asking the panel to immediately dismiss the complaint so the GOP could go to the federal court and ask for an immediate ban on the liberal group's strategy.

Republicans say groups like and the Media Fund are violating the ban on "soft" money donations, the unlimited donations to political parties that were banned by the 2002 campaign finance reform act.

Soft money donations from wealthy individuals, unions and activist groups were once the primary source of ad money for the Democratic party. Now that such donations to political parties are illegal, those funds have now been shifted to "technically" independent groups that nevertheless have strong Democratic ties.

Republicans, on the other hand, compensated for the soft money shortfall by aggressively soliciting "hard" contributions from individuals, which are limited to $2,000 per person. "Democratic special interest groups have created an illegal conspiracy with the stated intent of injecting more than $300 million of banned soft money into the 2004 election for the purpose of defeating President Bush and electing John Kerry," the GOP says in its complaint.

Democrats counter that the complaint is frivolous. "Bush and Republicans have taken March Madness and April Foolishness to new levels," says Michael Meehan, Kerry's senior campaign advisor. "The same Republicans who rail against frivolous lawsuits, are happy to have their lawyers fire away when their candidate drops in the polls."