Members at Odds

Posted April 7, 2004 at 5:40pm

More than 120 House Democrats sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission this week to express their “concerns” about the agency’s proposed rulemaking that could limit the activities of so-called 527 groups. [IMGCAP(1)]

“There has been absolutely no case made to Congress, or record established by the Commission, to support any notion that tax-exempt organizations and other independent groups threaten the legitimacy of our government when criticizing its policies,” the Members wrote. “We believe instead that more, not less, political activity by ordinary citizens and associations they form is needed in our country.”

The principal authors of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in the Senate — Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) — have taken the opposite stance, arguing that the FEC “should address the activities of 527 groups this election year on an expedited basis.”

The FEC will hold two days of hearings on the controversial topic April 14 and 15.

Book Notes. Paul Streitz, a Republican candidate gunning for the chance to challenge Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) in November, has asked the FEC to consider how his book figures into his campaign.

Streitz wrote and self-published “Restoring America’s Prosperity,” which focuses on such topics as free trade, economics, immigration and education.

Streitz has asked the watchdog agency whether he, as a candidate for the Senate, may receive appearance fees from talks concerning the book, so long as the talks do not involve discussion of his campaign or include any sort of campaign fundraising.

Streitz’s campaign Web site is currently touting and selling the book — proceeds of which go directly to Streitz through his publisher, Oxford Institute Press.

The FEC is considering his inquiry.

Body and Soul. The Library of Congress announced Tuesday the receipt of a $2.5 million gift from the International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality’s board of directors to create the David B. Larson Fellowship in Health and Spirituality at the Library’s Kluge Center.

Named in honor of the late epidemiologist and psychiatrist, who was also ICIHS’ founder and former president, the fellowship is aimed at professionals in the medical, religious, social science and humanistic disciplines whose goal is to pursue scientific research on the interactions between health and spirituality.

To donate funds to the fellowship, or to learn more about it, call the Office of Scholarly Programs at (202) 707-3302.

— Amy Keller and Bree Hocking