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FEC to Decide on 'Soft Money' Recount Funds

Election officials plan to decide before Nov. 2 whether congressional and presidential candidates can raise unlimited donations to fund recounts as President Bush and Al Gore (search) could for the multimillion-dollar Florida ballot dispute in 2000.

The Federal Election Commission (search), responding to a request for advice by Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry's campaign, said last month that Bush and Kerry could use their legal compliance funds, financed with individual donations of up to $2,000 each, to cover recount costs.

But the FEC stopped short of addressing whether they could set up separate recount funds bankrolled with unlimited individual donations.

The commission plans to decide that question Oct. 28, its last meeting before the election. It will respond to a request by Washington Senate candidate George Nethercutt (search) and the Washington Republican Party on what kind of money federal candidates and state parties can raise to finance a recount. The FEC's decision wouldn't affect national party committees, which are banned from raising unlimited donations for any purpose.

At issue is what effect, if any, a 2002 campaign finance law has on recounts. The new law bars federal candidates from raising corporate, union and unlimited donations for election costs, allowing them to collect only limited contributions from individuals and political action committees, which are financed by individual donors.