« Vieth v Jubelirer affirmed by Supreme Court | Main | Roundup of early stories on Vieth »

Welcome to the hot seat, Mr. Ashcroft

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section is reviewing allegations that Attorney General John D. Ashcroft may have violated federal campaign finance and disclosure laws based on information developed by the Federal Election Commission.

The section is responsible for determining whether allegations merit investigation as potential criminal violations of campaign finance and disclosure laws and for making recommendations as to whether a special counsel would be needed when a potential conflict of interest with senior Justice officials exists.

At issue is the valuable campaign fundraising list of then-Sen. Ashcroft (R-Mo.). He had claimed ownership of the fundraising list during an FEC inquiry, but had not reported it as an asset on his Senate or Justice Department financial disclosure statements.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine disclosed the review in an April 14 letter to the National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI), an election law interest group, which disclosed it to The Washington Post.

The institute triggered the original FEC investigation almost three years ago, which resulted in a determination in December that Ashcroft's 1998 leadership political action committee, Spirit of America, and his Senate reelection campaign committee, Ashcroft 2000, had committed at least four violations of federal campaign laws. The two committees agreed to pay a $37,000 fine to settle the issue. -- Justice Department Reviewing Ashcroft (washingtonpost.com)

Here is the letter from Mr. Fine.