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How can Teresa help John?

Teresa Heinz Kerry can explore two possibilities: financing "independent" ads and other political activities benefiting her husband's presidential bid, or contributing to some of the pro-Democratic independent groups planning to spend millions of dollars to defeat Bush. Both options, however, face significant legal obstacles, according to Democratic, GOP and independent lawyers, none of whom would speak on the record about a hypothetical case involving the Kerry campaign.

Foremost is whether Teresa Heinz Kerry's relationship to the candidate would bar her from making independent expenditures of her own or financing one or more of the Democratic groups. An unresolved issue is whether she has become an "agent" of her husband's campaign. FEC regulations prohibit "agents" of federal candidates from "soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring or spending" large, unregulated contributions known as "soft money." The FEC defines an agent as "any person who has actual authority, either express or implied . . . to solicit, receive, direct, transfer or spend funds" in a federal campaign.

Lewis said Teresa Heinz Kerry's lawyers will try to determine whether she is an agent of the Kerry campaign, but the FEC would have the final say. If she is, it would appear to bar her from an independent effort and from giving large sums to the pro-Democratic groups. -- Major Kerry Asset Could Become Liability (washingtonpost.com)