President Bush's campaign is urging election regulators to allow it and rival John Kerry (search) to raise unlimited individual donations to cover costs for a possible recount, as Bush and rival Al Gore could in 2000.
In a letter to the Federal Election Commission (search) made public Wednesday, the Bush campaign argued that nothing in the campaign finance laws has changed on recount fund raising since 2000.
Bush campaign attorney Tom Josefiak wrote the commission after Kerry's campaign asked the FEC for guidance on its fund-raising options should either campaign pursue a recount like the 2000 Florida ballot dispute that made Bush president. The commission is expected to give Kerry its opinion Sept. 30.
In 2000, Bush and Gore could raise unlimited donations from individuals for their recount funds, but were barred from accepting corporate and union money.
The Bush campaign argues that should be the case this time as well.
Bush voluntarily limited his recount donations to $5,000 each and raised nearly $14 million for the Florida recount; Josefiak said the campaign hasn't yet discussed whether he would also limit contributions if there is a recount this year. Gore took unlimited donations and spent about $3.2 million on the recount.
A major new campaign finance law has taken effect since the 2000 election, barring federal candidates from raising corporate, union or unlimited donations known as soft money for election costs. They can collect only limited contributions from individuals for their campaigns.
The FEC has not said whether the soft-money ban applies to recounts. Campaign finance watchdog groups argue it does.
The Kerry campaign asked the commission whether legal compliance funds financed with limited individual donations could be used to cover recount costs. The Bush campaign supports that as an option, but also contends it should be able to establish a recount fund financed with unlimited individual donations if needed.
Bush's legal compliance fund had $6 million on hand as September began, compared with $3.4 million for Kerry's.