From The Trail: Carl Cameron's Campaign Notebook

Carl Cameron
FNC's Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron sends quick notes back from the campaign trail.  Look for them here just for FOX Fans!

Thursday, 4/8/04: Breaking the Rules?

In a move sure to spark controversy, a founding member of the Left leaning online political special interest group is resigning to join the John Kerry campaign and coordinate the Democratic presidential candidate's online campaign.

FOX News has learned Zack Exley has left and joined Kerry's campaign Wednesday. and its various political action committees have been one of the staunchest critics of the Bush administration on the war on terror and the economy.

By raising money over the Internet and paying millions of dollars for newspaper and TV ads attacking the president, has become one of the most prominent voices among Democratic critics of the Bush administration.

Federal law prohibits presidential campaigns from "coordinating" with outside special interest groups. While some communication is allowed, campaigns and special interest groups are prohibited from coordinating their messages and ad buys.

Republicans have long said such outside special interest groups are violating special laws by running ads that clearly advocate the defeat of President Bush, even though the exact words "vote for Kerry” or “defeat Bush" do not appear in the ads. The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and the RNC have already filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee and last week asked the FEC to stand down on considering the complaint so that the GOP could take it directly to federal court.

Several special interest groups, known as 527's for the section of the tax code that creates them, have close ties to the Kerry campaign. The Media Fund is run by former Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan.

For Zach Exley, formerly of, to join the Kerry campaign will prompt immediate GOP criticism. spokesman tells FOX News that Exley will cut off all communication with his former colleagues and work exclusively for the Kerry campaign within the law.

Monday, 4/5/04: Bashing the Bush Budget

Today the John Kerry campaign will release a study of President Bush's budget proposal. That proposal, according to Kerry aides, conceals $6 trillion in budget costs and spending over the next 10 years.  The Kerry campaign says the administration has not been honest with the American people.

On Saturday former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and a half a dozen prominent Democratic leaders met with Kerry in Boston.  They discussed getting all democrats and like-minded special interest groups, like the AFL-CIO, on board with this criticism.

Also Monday, the Kerry campaign will release an internet slash advertisement, which will accompany the news of this report. All this week, Kerry will be criticizing the Bush administration for "reckless fiscal irresponsibility" and hammering Bush on the deficit. 

Kerry has a major speech on Wednesday about the Bush budget deficit.  The Kerry team says the additional costs are being incurred on Medicare prescription drug reforms, Social Security privatization reforms, the war on terror, and the war on Iraq.

Tuesday, 3/9/04: Let the Battle Begin

While John Kerry was campaigning in Palm Beach Florida, starting point of the 2000 recount debacle that ended up in the Supreme Court, legal battles were already beginning in the 2004 campaign.

 The Bush-Cheney campaign plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against a Democratic special interest group that has announced plans to spend 4.5 million dollars on anti-Bush TV ads in key battleground states.

The Media Fund, which is run by former Clinton administration Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and former Kerry Campaign manager  Jim Jordan, has been raising money for months now.  (They recently hired Sarah Leonard-formerly of the Dean campaign.)

 The Media Fund ads will air in 17 battleground states and are meant to answer the current Bush-Cheney ad blitz.  It bought a million dollars worth of ads Monday, with more to follow.  The liberal online group "" is running similar ads and has already spent millions attacking President Bush.

Several campaign finance watchdog groups filed a complaint with the FEC against and other political groups — known as 527's — in January.  The groups appear in section 527 of the IRS code and claim to be exempt from various new restrictions on special interest group spending in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act.

Now, the Bush-Cheney campaign plans to file a complaint against the Media Fund, alleging that the Media Fund is trying to influence the election and should have to register with the FEC as a regular political action committee.

The Bush campaign is suggesting that Media Fund donors may have broken the law by giving to the group, and it wants the FEC to find out whether they gave on the basis that their donations would be used to influence a federal election.  One of the Media funds biggest donors is billionaire George Soros. 

Media Fund spokesman James Jordan tells FOX News they are within the law because they do not directly call for the president's defeat and no corporate or union contributions are financing the ads.