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Watchdog Groups File Anti-Kerry Ad Complaint

Three campaign finance watchdog groups filed a complaint Tuesday accusing a group of Vietnam veterans of violating the campaign finance law by airing an ad that challenges Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's (search) military record.

Democracy 21 (search), the Center for Responsive Politics (search) and the Campaign Legal Center (search) argue that the ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) violates a federal ban on the use of unlimited donations, often referred to as "soft money," to influence federal elections.

In the ad, the group accuses Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, of lying about his war record and betraying fellow veterans by later protesting the conflict. Veterans who served with Kerry on his swiftboat have said the group is lying, and Republican Sen. John McCain (search) of Arizona has called the ad "dishonest and dishonorable."

The group bought $500,000 worth of airtime to run the ad in Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virginia.

In the complaint to the Federal Election Commission (search), the watchdog groups argued that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth should have used only limited contributions from individuals known as hard money and should disclose its donations and spending in reports to the FEC.

A Swift Boat Veterans for Truth spokesman did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking comment.