Recount Soft Money?

Posted October 18, 2004 at 6:31pm

Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.) and the Republican Party have asked the Federal Election Commission whether Congressional candidates can raise soft money to pay for their recount expenses. [IMGCAP(1)]

In a letter to the FEC last week, lawyers for Nethercutt — who is challenging Sen. Patty Murray (D) — said that “if permitted” by the FEC, the campaign plans to establish and solicit donations for a recount fund under the candidate’s control.

But the letter asks whether Nethercutt could also solicit funds for outside groups — such as 501(c)s or 527s — to conduct recounts. The letter contends that the soft-money ban contained in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act “does not apply to funds raised and spent for recount or litigation costs that are incurred post-election.”

The FEC will render a decision by Oct. 27.

Enough College? Following two of his colleagues who introduced a similar proposal this session, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) has drafted a constitutional amendment to eliminate the Electoral College. His proposal, along with a separate resolution cosponsored by Reps. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Gene Green (D-Texas), would establish the direct election of the president and vice president.

“Part of the rationale for establishing the Electoral College in the first place was to make sure that the slaving-owning southern states would have disproportionate power,” Jackson said in a statement. “The American people understand democracy and are fully mature democrats. It’s time to end the paternalism of the Electoral College.”

Underscoring how little chance the idea has of matriculating, at least this Congress, Jackson said he intends to re-introduce it to every future Congress to which he is elected.

Best in Show. Congressional candidates are doing a much better job of disclosing contributor information than in years past, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Counting “full disclosure” as meaning that the candidate listed a clear occupation or employer for a donor, and not just a vague description of the contributor’s line of work, House candidates demonstrated a 94 percent full disclosure in the current election cycle so far, compared to 93 percent in 2002 and 92 percent in 2000.

Senate candidates, meanwhile, have fully disclosed on average 91 percent of their itemized contributions — the same level as 2000, but up from 89 percent in 2002.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has raised $6.8 million from individuals and $8.8 million overall, has the “best disclosure record … heading into the November elections” with a 100 percent full disclosure rate for itemized individual contributions.

GOP long shot Howard Mills, who is challenging Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), has the worst disclosure of any Senate candidate who met the $100,000 threshold, with 58 percent full disclosure.

— Amy Keller and Suzanne Nelson