WASHINGTON – Election Day is several weeks away, but Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's (search) campaign is already considering its fund-raising options should Kerry or President Bush (search) pursue a recount like the famous Florida ballot dispute in 2000.
The Kerry-Edwards campaign is asking the Federal Election Commission (search) for guidance on how it could raise money to cover any recount costs, including whether it could use a legal compliance fund it is tapping to pay campaign lawyers and finance other legal and accounting costs. The FEC is expected to rule by the end of the month.
In 2000, Bush and Democratic rival Al Gore could raise unlimited donations from individuals to cover their recount expenses. However, corporate and union contributions to their recount funds were banned.
Bush voluntarily limited his recount donations to $5,000 each and raised nearly $14 million. Gore took unlimited donations and spent about $3.2 million on the recount.
Since then, Congress passed a law that bars presidential and congressional candidates from raising corporate, union or unlimited donations for election costs, allowing them to collect only limited contributions from individuals.
The FEC has not yet said how the soft-money ban (search) applies to recount fund-raising.
Depending how the commission answers Kerry's question, legal compliance funds financed with limited individual donations could be one way for the candidates to cover any recount costs.
Kerry's compliance fund had about $1.5 million on hand as August began, while Bush's had about $4.4 million, their most recent reports to the FEC show.
The only contributions Kerry and Bush can accept are those for their legal compliance funds. Both took full government financing for their general-election campaigns, putting a stop to their use of private money for campaign costs after their presidential nominating conventions earlier this summer.