McConnell Leads Way to 'Soft Money' Record
By Ceci Connolly and Terry M. Neal
The man promising to literally talk campaign finance reform to death set a new record for raising "soft money" for the GOP Senate campaign arm.
As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) helped raise $2.1 million in "soft money" during the first six months of this year, according to a report by Common Cause.
That's more than double the amount raised during the same period in 1995 when Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.) was running the committee.
Although soft money contributions, which are not limited, are supposed to be used for party-building activities rather than to support a particular candidate, Common Cause and other advocacy groups say the system has been grossly abused.
But McConnell, who is promising to filibuster campaign finance overhaul that would ban soft money, says political donations are simply an exercise of free speech.
"Senator McConnell's record-breaking soft money fund-raising makes clear his opposition to campaign finance reform is not simply an innocent defense of the First Amendment," said Common Cause President Ann McBride.
Among the top "soft money" donors to the GOP: Freddie Mac, American Financial Group and three large tobacco firms.
A total of 45 donors each gave the Republican committee more than $25,000 in the first half of 1997.
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