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GOP urges restrictions on 527's

The Wahington Post reports:

The Republican National Committee plans to ask the Federal Election Commission today to ban the raising of $300 million or more in "soft money" by pro-Democratic groups seeking to pay for voter mobilization and TV ads in this year's elections.

The request marks a reversal of traditional Republican opposition to regulating political money. Democrats say the shift is motivated by the GOP's recognition that tougher regulation might work to Democrats' disadvantage.

The Republican request would restrict most political spending to "hard money" contributions, which are limited to $2,000 per individual to a federal candidate. The Republican Party and President Bush hold a substantial advantage over Democrats in raising such money.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie -- whose group previously urged the Supreme Court to overturn McCain-Feingold -- pointedly asked his Democratic counterpart, Terence R. McAuliffe, to co-sign the letter to the FEC. McAuliffe said he would consider co-signing if Gillespie would expand the request's scope to cover such pro-Republican groups as Progress for America, United Seniors Association and Americans for Tax Reform, most of which use a different section of the tax code, "501." "I look forward to your reply," McAuliffe concluded his "Dear Ed" letter.

James Jordan, spokesman for three pro-Democratic groups -- the Media Fund, America Coming Together and America Vote -- denounced the RNC action. "This is nothing more nor less than an another attempt by Republican special interests to silence progressive voices in an election year," he said.

The GOP is commenting on a request by Americans for a Better Country. You can review their request and the comments so far (the Republican response is not posted yet) at the FEC site. It is number 03-37.