Wednesday, 27 August 2003

Ashcroft's Little Secret

As the top law enforcement officer of the federal government, the Attorney General of the United States has a moral duty to act with honesty and integrity, and to guard his reputation as a law-abiding citizen. This means the Attorney General must -- at the very minimum -- make sure the political committees connected to him follow the nation's campaign finance rules. Respect for the law demands no less.

So why is John Ashcroft stonewalling about charges that his 2000 Senate campaign broke the federal campaign finance law?

A coalition of voters and campaign finance reform groups filed a complaint in March 2001 with the Federal Election Commission, alleging that Mr. Ashcroft's leadership PAC, "Spirit of America," illegally contributed a fundraising list of 100,000 donors to his 2000 Senate campaign in Missouri. Neither the PAC nor the campaign committee reported the contribution.

Spirit of America developed the list of donors between 1997 and 1999 at a cost of more than $2 million, according to a press report. Upon receiving the list at no charge, the Ashcroft campaign allegedly rented the list out and made over $100,000.

If this is true, Ashcroft's PAC is in hot water on a number of counts. PACs are prohibited from contributing more than $10,000 to federal candidates in an election cycle, and campaigns are likewise prohibited from receiving such contributions. That limit includes the non-monetary donations, like the fundraising list. Further, all PAC contributions must be reported by both the contributing PAC itself and the recipient campaign committee.

Quite simply, Ashcroft's campaign and leadership PAC broke the law by giving and receiving a contribution that exceeded the federal contribution limit by at least 10 times and possibly by more than 200 times, and by failing to disclose the contribution in the first place.

Full story...

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