House leaders seek limits on political groups
Groups on both political sides would be affected
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans launched an election-year drive Wednesday to rein in political groups that operate with looser restraints than candidates and their parties, an attempt to blunt the activities of liberals like billionaire George Soros.
Wealthy supporters, who make donations of $1 million or more to such groups, would be limited to contributions of slightly more than $26,000 under the legislation, and the organizations themselves would be subject to more frequent disclosure requirements.
Republican officials said the new restrictions would apply to organizations that work on both sides of the political divide, including Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. That group outraged Democrats during the 2004 presidential campaign when it aired TV ads questioning the Vietnam War record of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry even though he had been decorated for bravery under fire.
More recently, Republican strategists have expressed concern about the efforts by Soros and others to boost Democratic prospects in the congressional midterm elections.
GOP leaders announced plans to fold their proposal into a package of ethics-related bills to be brought to the floor in the wake of a corruption scandal spawned by lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Other measures would ban privately funded travel for House members, at least through the end of the year, and require lobbyists to disclose the gifts they make to lawmakers.
The measures will "sustain the integrity of the Congress as we move forward," House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said at a news conference.
Democrats, who unveiled a package of ethics-related legislation earlier this year, criticized the Republicans proposals.
"All talk and no action," said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the party's leader in the House. She said Democrats "are fighting to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest government in history."
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