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How much is a list worth?

If I give a political campaign organization a list of people who would be likely to contribute to the campaign, is that worth something? Sure, but how much? And is that a contribution? If the list cost me $1.7 million to build, have I made a $1.7 contribution to the campaign?

In December, the FEC entered into a concilation agreement with John Ashcroft's Senate campaign committee for violating the FECA by accepting such a list. Of course, the only amount mentioned in the FEC's press release was $110,000 -- the amount of rental income from the list.

Forbes.com and the Washington Post have reported recently on the gift by Grover Norquist of a list of activists to the Bush re-election campaign. Here's how the Post describes the list:

Norquist, 47, is known for his weekly strategy sessions of conservatives, a Washington institution. But quietly, for the past five years, he also has been building a network of "mini-Grover" franchises. He has crisscrossed the country, hand-picking leaders, organizing meetings of right-wing advocates in 37 states. The network will meet its first test in the presidential race. On this evening at Harry's, several blocks from campaign headquarters in Arlington, Norquist presented his master contact list to Mehlman, mapped out and bound in a book.

"Fabulous, Grover. Awesome," Mehlman said, scanning the book like a hungry man reading a menu. "We're going to take that energy and harness it."

Forbes.com reports the reaction of the clean government groups:

"A campaign would love to get a list of these [coordinators'] names," says a conservative who's familiar with the Washington powwows. "It saves them time. The Bush campaign has a database with 6 million names, but how many can they really activate?"

A verboten contribution of a list? Clean government groups are licking their lips. "How much money and staff time over five years did it take to put together this list?" asks Lawrence Noble, director of the Center for Responsive Politics. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics is already planning on calling for an FEC inquiry. "The list has no financial value," Norquist insists.

Oh, yeah? Stay tuned.

Thanks to Alfredo Garcia for both news links.