Bush Camp Acts Against Shadow Groups

President Bush's campaign asked a court Wednesday to force the Federal Election Commission (search) to act on its complaints against anti-Bush groups spending millions of dollars in the presidential race, arguing that the FEC is failing to do its job.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, the campaign argued that the FEC is taking too long to address what the campaign calls illegal spending of corporate, union and big individual donations to influence the presidential race. Its lawsuit seekstrying to deny Bush a second term have spent more than $60 million on advertising, far outstripping organizations sympathetic to the president that have vowed a late campaign drive to match their rivals.

More recently, the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) has aired ads challenging Democratic Sen. John Kerry's decorated Vietnam War record.

Josefiak said that if the court and the FEC both move quickly that it could get action before Election Day and curtail the soft-money groups.

The campaign and Republican National Committee filed complaints in March accusing anti-Bush groups, including the Media Fund, America Coming Together and Moveon.org, of illegally spending large contributions to influence the federal election.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Karl Rove (search), Bush's chief strategist, said, "We want all (such) ads and activities to cease. We have been consistent on this."

A law that took effect in November 2002 broadly banned the spending of so-called soft money to influence presidential and congressional races.

The anti-Bush groups argue that the ban only applies to activity that explicitly calls for a federal candidate's election or defeat, and say their spending stops short of that.

The Bush campaign views its action Wednesday as the first step in its legal campaign in limiting the group to individual contributions and forcing them to disclose their activity to the FEC. The sponsor of the soft-money ban, Sen. John McCain (search) of Arizona, has said he wants to go to Congress this month with legislation to outlaw the soft-money groups.