Because of an editing error, it was incorrectly reported yesterday that proposed restrictions on contributions to House candidates would limit them to a total of $50,000 from any single political action committee: (PAC) during a primary and general election campaign. In fact, contributions would be limited to a total of $50,000 from all PACS.
Democratic supporters of a bill to curb special interest contributions to House candidates are seeking to by-pass House Administration Committee action on the measure and rush it to the floor, possibly as early as next week.
To do this, they would ask the House Rules Committee to make the bill an amendment to another bill that authorizes funding of the Federal Election commission. "If we are going to have it in place by the 1980 election, we have to do it now," said chairman Frank Thompson (D-N. J.), who supports bypassing his own committee.
Other supporters of the bill concede the move is to prevent Republicans from filibustering the measure in the committee and to prevent special interests from gearing up a major lobbying effort against it. On Tuesday the Republican Policy Committee came out against the measure and against bypassing the House committee because that would mean "circumventing the usual legislative procedure."
The bill would reduce the amount a political action committee could contribute to a candidate for the House from $10,000 ($5,000 in a primary and $5,000 in a general election) to a total of $5,000 for both a primary and general election campaign.
It also would prohibit House candidates from receiving more than $50,000 from one of the committees in a single term. But Thompson said these limits might be changed to $6,000 instead of $5,000 and $60,000 instead of $50,000 by the time the bill reaches the House floor.
The Republican Policy Committee opposes the bill -- sponsored by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.) and Tom Railsback (R-Ill.) and about 100 others -- because "it restricts full participation in our election process." A policy committee statement went on to say: 'It leaves candidates no defense against the competitors. It raises the cost of political fund raising. . .and penalizes challengers who need to spend heavily to gain indentity equal to incumbents."
Supporters of the bill contend that it is vital to cut back the growing influence of special interests in congressional campaigns. With the advent of public financing for presidential races, contributions to congressional races have shot up. In 1974, House candidates received a total of $8.3 million from political action committees, the fund raising arms of corporate and labor union givers. In 1978, House candidates received $22.9 million from PACS.
Obey said it is influence that the special interests are buying. "They'd like to own the place. If we don't do something soon it will be too late," he declared.