Reid, not required to reveal donors to soft money fund, says he won’t
CARSON CITY (AP) – U.S. Sen. Harry Reid says he’s not required and won’t volunteer to make public names of contributors to a campaign fund he set up to help Democrats in various Nevada races.
Reid, D-Nev., described the account, an arm of his political action committee, as his tool to advance the state Democratic Party as it heads into important elections this year.
”It’s my way to help,” he said Wednesday. ”It’s an important part of fund raising.”
Contributors are allowed to donate unlimited amounts into the ”soft money” account without being reported to the Federal Election Commission.
”I’m sure there are circumstances where I would (disclose), but I can’t think of any right now,” Reid said, adding that he is legally not required to disclose and his PAC is in full compliance with the law.
The soft money account is an arm of the Searchlight Leadership Fund, the political action committee Reid formed in 1997 shortly before he became Senate minority whip, the No. 2 Democratic leader. The PAC holds about $800,000.
The Searchlight Leadership Fund has a separate account to help place Democrats in federal office. Reid also has a third fund for his own campaigns. Those accounts are subject to federal rules that limit donations variously to $1,000 and $5,000 per election and require reports to the FEC.
But the nonfederal account is not subject to limits on donations or federal reporting, and can accept direct contributions from corporations and labor groups.
Campaign finance advocates have proposed bills to ban soft money, arguing the presence of large and unregulated caches of campaign cash are a factor in diminishing public trust of government.
Reid has voted in support of legislation by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis., that would ban soft money. He said his raising of soft money isn’t inconsistent with his position on campaign finance reform.
”Not only have I voted in favor of it, I have spoken in favor of campaign finance reform during my 18 years” in Congress, he said.
However, Reid said, until the laws are changed, it would be foolish for him to ”unilaterally disarm.” Reid advisers say he intends to fully participate financially in individual Nevada races this year and through large checks to the state Democratic Party.
Key races this year include the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Bryan; the congressional seat held by Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley that is being contested by Republican state Sen. Jon Porter; and control of the state Legislature, which will redraw election boundaries following this year’s census.