Vietnam to Receive Help

From U.S. in AIDS Fight

President Bush today will designate Vietnam the 15th country to receive a share of the $15 billion U.S. fund to fight AIDS -- making it the first nation outside Africa and the Caribbean to receive money as part of the plan, administration officials said yesterday.

Vietnam has about 130,000 people with AIDS, and that number is expected to rise to 1 million by 2010. Officials said this sharp expected increase was one of the main reasons they chose the Asian country over other nations, such as India, which have more cases.

Vietnam has already demonstrated a commitment to fighting the disease and is building its public health infrastructure, officials said. They also cited the country's success in fighting severe acute respiratory syndrome. The country will receive between $8 million and $10 million in the first year of support. Bush is also expected to announce funding increases for AIDS research, domestic treatment and prevention, and to commit about $530 million in the search for a vaccine.

Ethics Panel to Review

Case Against DeLay

The House ethics committee said it will review a Texas congressman's complaint that accuses House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a fellow Texan, of "serious criminal acts."

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct said Democratic Rep. Chris Bell met House rules for the filing of such a complaint. The decision is largely procedural and is not based on the merits of the allegations.

DeLay, a Republican, has called the complaint filed last week the work of a disgruntled lawmaker. Bell, a freshman, lost his reelection bid in Texas's March primaries after Republicans redrew his Houston district. The panel's decision triggered a 45-day review of the complaint.

Complaint Filed Against

Pro-Democratic Group

Three campaign finance watchdog groups accused America Coming Together, a pro-Democratic organization mobilizing voters in battleground states, of illegally raising and spending "soft money" to defeat President Bush.

In a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission, Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center and the Center for Responsive Politics charged that ACT is financing direct-mail solicitations with soft money, or unregulated contributions, from unions, corporations and rich people in violation of the law.

"Our complaint charges that ACT has been illegally funding its direct mail communications that attack and oppose Bush with 98 percent soft money and two percent hard money, instead of the 100 percent federal hard money they are required to use," Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21 president, said in a statement.

Jim Jordan, spokesman for ACT, dismissed the allegations. He called them "a rehashing of the same baseless arguments that the FEC has already taken a pass on."

ACT, according to earlier reports filed with the FEC, has been paying for its activities with 98 percent soft money and 2 percent "hard money" -- federally regulated contributions of $5,000 or less from individuals and political action committees.

The three watchdog groups cited an earlier FEC advisory opinion that told another organization that direct-mail solicitations referring to federal candidates "must be treated as [a federally regulated] expenditure and paid for" with hard money.

-- From Staff Reports

and News Services