Television stations across the country have been warned by Republican campaign chiefs not to run ads from MoveOn.org criticizing President Bush.
Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie charged that the liberal group is paying for them with "soft" campaign contributions in violation of federal law.
About 250 TV stations have received letters from the RNC's general counsel, urging them not to air ads criticizing Bush directly. Republican officials charge that ads mentioning a candidate directly must be paid for by "hard" donations, meaning those directly from individuals, which are limited to $2,000.
The 1992 campaign finance reform law banned unlimited "soft" money contributions to political parties and the Federal Election Commission is mulling to what extent the restrictions apply to independent nonprofit organizations like MoveOn, which has stepped in to fund campaign ads that were once financed by the Democratic party.
Republicans, which have a more effective hard money fundraising apparatus, has been less aggressive in setting up conservative nonprofits to counter MoveOn and its liberal siblings. MoveOn officials deny they are violating campaign regulations and called the RNC's letter "a complete misrepresentation of the law."