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Democratic Fund-Raising Hits Record

January 10, 2002 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three national Democratic committees raised record amounts last year despite halting fund raising for nearly a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Democratic National Committee took in $46.5 million in 2001, Chairman Terry McAuliffe told party lawmakers in a letter released Wednesday. The DNC raised $44.5 million in 1999, the last nonelection year.

Aggressive use of direct mail contributed to the increase, McAuliffe said. The DNC more than doubled its direct-mail donors, he said.

Despite the record fund-raising, the DNC broke even for the year, with roughly $10.4 million on hand but about the same amount in debts, spokeswoman Maria Cardona said.

``We spent every single nickel we had on elections last year and we have huge wins,″ Cardona said. Those included the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races and more than three-dozen mayoral elections.

The DNC fund-raising total included $24.5 million in limited ``hard money″ contributions and $22 million in unlimited ``soft money.″

Like other Democratic and Republican national fund-raising committees, the DNC called off fund raising for roughly three weeks after the September terrorist attacks.

Citing a subsequent drop in donations, the DNC in October asked the Federal Election Commission to ease a rule governing its spending of soft- money contributions.

Party committees can pay for operating expenses using hard money _ donations that are limited but can be spent in any way _ and then reimburse themselves for 40 percent of those expenses using soft money.

They have 60 days to make the reimbursement. The DNC wanted federal regulators to temporarily extend the time limit to 120 days. The FEC rejected the request.

``It certainly would have been helpful at the time and under the circumstances we were under,″ Cardona said. ``But when we didn’t get it we hustled and it resulted in successful fund raising.″

The push included several fund-raising trips around the country by McAuliffe in the last few months of the year, Cardona said. She did not know how much was raised from September through December.

The Democrats’ national Senate and House committees also reported record fund raising for 2001.

The Senate committee will play a key role in helping Democrats try to keep their Senate majority in the November elections. House Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to take control of the House from Republicans.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $37 million last year, up from $26 million in 1999.

The DSCC paid off $4.35 million in debts from the 2000 election and had $18.6 million on hand as of Dec. 31.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in about $34 million last year, about $1 million more than in 1999.

The national Republican committees plan to release their 2001 fund-raising totals later this month.


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