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Political Coffers Getting Stuffed

The Democratic National Committee (DNC), which was $16 million in debt two years ago, has raised enough money to pay what it owes.

National Chairman Joe Andrew said Thursday that the DNC, which raised $21 million during the first six months of 1999, now has more than enough money to pay its bills.

Meanwhile, the committees that help Senate Democrats and House Republicans reported raising record amounts of campaign contributions during the first half of 1999.

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $26 million between Jan. 1 and June 30, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took in $12 million during the same period.

The figures include money raised under federal contribution limits that can be used to directly aid congressional candidates, as well as the unregulated contributions from corporations, labor unions and individuals, which is known as soft money.

Three other party committees, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, declined to release their mid-year fund-raising totals Thursday. They do not have to file with the Federal Election Commission until later this month.

The party committees reported their hauls a day after Texas Gov. George W. Bush smashed fund-raising records for presidential campaigns, taking in more than $36 million in the first half of this year.

At the same time, critics of the ways in which campaigns are financed bemoaned the record hauls.

Republican Presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole told CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras, "Yes, he does have a lot of money, but there are other things that are very important as well: ideas, your vision for America."

"There are no elections; there are only auctions," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Public Campaign advocacy group. "The entire fund-raising system has been turned into a chase for money."

The NRCC had raised $16 million during the first six months of 1997, meaning that its fund raising is up 63 percent this year. The committee also paid off its $3.6 million debt incurred last fall.

The NRCC has invited several industry representatives to pay $10,000 apiece to discuss issues with key GOP lawmakers.

Representatives of the technology industry on Thursday had breakfast with NRCC Chairman Tom Davis of Virginia, House Commerce Committee chairman Thomas Bliley of Virginia, and Rep. Billy Tauzin of Louisiana, chairman of Commerce's telecommunications subcommittee.

"Our continued success would not have been possible without the hard work of our members," Davis said.

Last month, House Republicans helped raise money for the annual Senate-House GOP dinner, which took in almost $9 million, a record for a non-election yer. The donors included corporations and lobbyists with bills pending before Congress.

The DSCC had raised more than $8 million during the first six months of 1997, and surpassed that total by almost 50 percent this year, taking in $12 million.

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Total amounts raised by presidential candidates in the first six months of 1999:

Funds Raised
(in millions)
George W. Bush $36.25
Sen. John McCain$4.1
Elizabeth Dole $3.4
Gary Bauer$3.4
Former Vice President
Dan Quayle
Steve Forbes$2.7
Pat Buchanan$2.4
Lamar Alexander$2
Rep. John Kasich$1.6
Sen. Bob Smith$1.6
Funds Raised
(in millions)
Vice President Al Gore $18.5
Sen. Bill Bradley$11.5

Source: The Associated Press

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