Roman Holiday

Posted June 11, 2003 at 6:19pm

Common Cause Legislative Director Matt Keller is heading overseas early next month to serve as counsel to the United Nations World Food Program.

Keller, who was doggedly involved in the effort to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act last year and has spent eight years at Common Cause, said he’s excited about the new challenges awaiting him in Rome, where he’ll be “helping to ensure that food is delivered to the people who need it most.”

“I want to do something positive for the USA. A big part of the reason why I wanted to do this, I wanted people to see Americans working on the positive, on rebuilding and restructuring — things that are humanitarian,” he said. “This is a chance to serve my country.”

Ruling on Rory. The Federal Election Commission will decide today whether Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) son, Rory, can raise soft money.

The younger Reid, a Clark County commissioner, has asked the watchdog agency if he can raise soft money for the Nevada Democratic Party, even though he is the Senator’s son and has helped raised campaign funds for him in the past.

A draft advisory opinion, which the FEC is slated to consider at today’s open meeting, asserts that Commissioner Reid would not be considered an agent of the Senator “solely because they are father and son” or because there was a prior history of him soliciting funds for his father.

Moreover, the FEC draft opinion recognizes a “dual agency” situation, whereby Reid could raise money for his state party committee and his father, so long as he does so in his own capacity and is not raising the state funds at the behest of his father.

Vetting Smith’s Request. In other FEC news, Ex-Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.) has asked the commission if he can use $60,000 in leftover campaign funds to help fuel his new group, the American Patriot Foundation.

The nonprofit organization, which Smith created last month, will provide assistance to the surviving family members of soldiers who die in the line of duty.

While Smith had returned numerous campaign donations to his contributors after losing his Senate re-election battle in 2002, he told the FEC that roughly $60,000 of those refund checks were never cashed, and he would like to now use that money for his foundation.

While speaking with an Associated Press reporter last month, a top Department of Veterans Affairs official raised doubts about Smith’s venture.

“No doubt Senator Smith has good intentions,” John Smart, the department’s director of regional services liaison told the AP. “But the more organizations that continue to crop up and get involved in this, the well eventually runs dry out there.”