The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to "put an immediate stop" to a Republican fund-raising operation the committee said could illegally raise millions of dollars for GOP senatorial candidates.

Robert Bauer, DSCC's general counsel, called the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle, which has disbursed about $1 million to dozens of candidates, a "dressed-up version" of a 1986 GOP operation that the FEC found in violation of limits on party contributions.

Federal law allows party committees to give candidates $17,500 and spend additional amounts on their behalf based on state populations.

Republicans describe the Inner Circle as a legal joint fund-raising operation exempt from the contribution limits. National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Wendy Burnley called the Democratic complaint "nothing more than election-eve politics."

The Democrats contend that the Inner Circle cannot qualify as a joint fund-raising operation if the NRSC controls where the money goes, provides the staff and receives just 1 percent of the money it raises. The complaint called the GOP effort "the most monumental fund-raising effort ever mounted by a national party committee on behalf of its individual federal candidates."

The operation is expected to raise as much as $11.5 million this year, according to a fund-raising letter mailed to potential contributors under the signature of Vice President Quayle.