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banner Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 01:36 GMT
Campaigns beg for more cash
George W Bush's campaign website
George W Bush's website has a plea for cash
By News Online's Kevin Anderson in Washington

The presidential campaigns are fighting a very public battle over the election results - and behind the scenes, they are racing to raise the money to fund this fight.

The campaigns are not allowed to use money in their general funds to pay for the recount efforts, and the George W Bush campaign has transformed its website into a plea for cash.

Gone are the position statements and calendar of events. In its place visitors to the website find the headline, "YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE!"

And Democratic candidate Al Gore moved almost immediately after the election last week to establish a committee to oversee the recount in Florida.

Both campaigns hope to raise about $3 million to fund the recount committees, and reports suggest that neither side is having trouble raising money from energised activists caught up in this historic election.

Legal grey area
US dollars
The millions raised for recount committees fall outside US campaign law

The Federal Election Commission, which oversees campaign finance, has never had to oversee fund raising for a recount in the presidential campaign, according to Ira Stirton, a spokesman with the FEC.

But based on an advisory ruling in the recount of a 1978 Senate race, these recount committees fall outside of US campaign finance law, he added.

This means that contributions to recount committees are not subject to the normal limits or reporting requirements under federal election laws, he said.

However these committees are subject to some campaign regulations. They cannot accept money from foreign nationals or directly from corporations or labour unions, but they can receive unlimited amounts of money from individuals or corporate and labour union political action committees, Mr Stirton said.

In the interest of disclosure

On its website, the Bush campaign is asking contributors to send up to $5,000, even though law does not set such a limit.

The funds will be used to pay the expenses of Republican monitors overseeing the recount in Florida and to cover mounting legal fees, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The Bush campaign has said that even though it is not compelled by law to report such contributions, it will post the fundraising efforts of its recount committee on its website.

And the campaign says that it will return any unused money on a pro rata basis.

The Gore recount committee has pledged to disclose contributions to its recount committee to the FEC on a quarterly basis, but that information may not be published until after the next president is already sworn in.

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See also:

14 Nov 00 | Americas
Heavy hitters and hired hands
13 Nov 00 | Americas
US elections: Your suggestions
10 Nov 00 | Americas
US papers watch and worry
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