WASHINGTON - Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has disclosed the identities of soft-money donors to his political action committee, the Searchlight Leadership Fund.
The list includes 51 donors, among them gambling, construction and soft drink companies, that gave Reid $303,150 in 1999.
Boxing promoter Don King donated the largest sum, $50,000. San Diego-based Metabolife International, an herbal-based nutritional products company, gave the second highest donation, $25,000.
Reid wasn't legally required to release the donor names who contributed to the PAC that he uses to make contributions to political allies.
In disclosing the contributions, Reid called for clearer, simpler campaign donation rules.
''Current campaign financing laws are an ineffective mess that have the perverse effect of penalizing individuals who are in complete compliance with law,'' Reid said in a statement.
''The problem is that the system is broken. By simply following the rules, I risk losing the trust and confidence of Nevadans because of how these regulations are written. The system must be changed.''
Reid is one of 43 members of Congress known to keep a ''nonfederal'' account as part of their political action committees, according to FECInfo, a campaign money watchdog group.
The nonfederal money, so-called soft money, is not federally regulated, and soft-money donors can make unlimited contributions. ''Hard money'' donations, limited to $5,000, must be reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Reid's move was laudable, said Sheila Krumholz, research director for the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign money watchdog.
''It's ultimately money that will have an impact on the election, and voters should have all the information possible to make the best choices at the ballot box,'' Krumholz said.
She said other powerful politicians should follow Reid's lead.
''The donors are not giving that kind of money with no favors in mind, with no ulterior motives,'' Krumholz said. ''It is incumbent on the press, the voters, and research groups to keep the pressure on to make sure this information sees the light of day.''
FECInfo co-founder Tony Raymond also praised Reid.
''We're interested in disclosure,'' Raymond said. ''Money follows power. It's good to know who is contributing to the candidacies. Whether you are for or against a certain candidate, it's good to know what interests are coming to bear.''
Reid collected $264,882 in hard money in 1999, in addition to the $303,000 in soft money collected, according to Reid officials. Reid spent $190,574 in hard money and roughly $140,000 of his soft money, Reid political director Paul DiNino said.