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"For The Children"
Is there any better cover to get around the new soft money regulations? Tom DeLay doesn't think so, writes Michael Slackman in The New York Times:

It is an unusual charity brochure: a 13-page document, complete with pictures of fireworks and a golf course, that invites potential donors to give as much as $500,000 to spend time with Tom DeLay during the Republican convention in New York City next summer - and to have part of the money go to help abused and neglected children.

Representative DeLay, who has both done work for troubled children and drawn criticism for his aggressive political fund-raising in his career in Congress, said through his staff that the entire effort was fundamentally intended to help children. But aides to Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader from Texas, acknowledged that part of the money would go to pay for late-night convention parties, a luxury suite during President Bush's speech at Madison Square Garden and yacht cruises.

And so campaign finance watchdogs say Mr. DeLay's effort can be seen as, above all, a creative maneuver around the recently enacted law meant to limit the ability of federal officials to raise large donations known as soft money.

"They are using the idea of helping children as a blatant cover for financing activities in connection with a convention with huge unlimited, undisclosed, unregulated contributions," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a Washington group that helped push through the recent overhaul of the campaign finance laws. Other lawmakers may well follow Mr. DeLay's lead. Already Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, is planning to hold a concert and a reception in conjunction with the convention as a way of raising money for AIDS charities.

Mr. DeLay's charity, Celebrations for Children Inc., was set up in September and has no track record of work. Mr. DeLay is not a formal official of the charity, but its managers are Mr. DeLay's daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro; Craig Richardson, a longtime adviser; and Rob Jennings, a Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Richardson said the managers would be paid by the new charity.

Mr. Richardson said the goal was to give 75 percent of the money it raised to children's charities, including some in the New York area. He said the charity also planned to hold other events at the Super Bowl.

But because the money collected will go into a nonprofit organization, donors get a tax break. And Mr. DeLay will never have to account publicly for who contributed, which campaign finance experts say shields those who may be trying to win favor with one of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington.

The "for the children" excuse is getting more than a little tired. Then again, the Puritans in our government seem to think it works just fine for preventing adults from listening to Howard Stern. I prefer the "turn the dial" if you don't like it solution in that case, and in this one, turn Tom DeLay out on his big, sleazy...ear!

(via metafilter)

Posted by aalkon at July 13, 2004 8:24 AM

Comments

Sure, I'm disgusted -- but I find it hard to believe that the democrats aren't doing it too. Slackman glosses over that.

Posted by: Lena at July 13, 2004 9:17 AM