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Republican Party Plans Suit To Overturn McCain Law

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Author Topic: Republican Party Plans Suit To Overturn McCain Law  (Read 10 times)
Monique Faulkner
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« on: November 13, 2008, 11:38:27 am »

Republican Party Plans Suit To Overturn McCain Law
JIM KUHNHENN | November 12, 2008 08:00 PM EST |

WASHINGTON The national Republican Party wants to make it easier to raise and spend political money and plans to sue the Federal Election Commission to alter a six-year-old law written by John McCain, the defeated Republican presidential candidate.

Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan said Wednesday that he wants the courts to eliminate restrictions on coordinated spending by national parties and federal candidates and to permit the national organizations to raise money for state parties.

Duncan said he planned to file suits Thursday in federal courts in Washington D.C. and in Louisiana. His goal, he said was to "strengthen the Republican Party and bring a more level playing field to campaign finance."

The lawsuits represent the most direct party challenge to post-Watergate restrictions on the ability of parties and candidates to work hand-in-hand on political campaigns and on the anti-soft money law that McCain championed in 2002. Both laws have been upheld by the Supreme Court, but since then the court has a new Chief Justice in John G. Roberts and a new justice in Samuel Alito.

"This effort to go to the Supreme Court appears to be based on the idea that we have different justices so the prior decisions should just be thrown out, and that is just dead wrong," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a campaign money watchdog group.

Since the 1970s, parties have been limited in the amount of money they can spend in coordination with a House, Senate or presidential candidate. For instance, this year, the RNC and its counterpart, the Democratic National Committee, could only spend $19 million each in consultation with the McCain or the Barack Obama campaigns.

For the past decade, national party committees have set up independent expenditure units that can spend money on behalf of candidates as long as they have no contact with each other. The RNC spent more than $50 million against Obama through its independent operation.

"That results in these expenditure units being given money without direction, without coordination," Duncan said. "You get results where candidates are often upset with the message that is going out."

The RNC's effort to permit fundraising for state parties and state candidates would reverse a key component of the 2002 law that McCain helped write with Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and House members Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin Meehan, D-Mass.

Under that law, the national parties can only raise money under federal fundraising restrictions. The law banned the national parties from raising so-called soft-money _ that is, unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions or individuals. If the national parties can raise money for state parties or for state candidates, they would adjust that fundraising to state limits, some of which are far more lenient than federal law.

Duncan said he wants the RNC chairman to be able to raise money next year, for example, for governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. Duncan was spelling out his lawsuit plans Wednesday night to governors attending the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Miami.

He said such greater fundraising freedom also would strengthen the party's hand for congressional redistricting efforts. The party money could be used to help elect state officials who have a hand in making redistricting decisions and to finance litigation challenging any new district lines.
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