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Bringing in the big bucks for the Dems

In the first election under the sweeping McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, perhaps no fund-raiser has been more successful than Ms. [Ellen] Malcolm at collecting millions of dollars by turning the new rules to her advantage.

The success of her efforts hangs on a decision on Thursday by the Federal Election Commission, which is expected to delay or abandon new campaign finance rules -- an outcome that would most likely keep Ms. Malcolm and fund-raisers like her in business through this year's elections.

Ms. Malcolm has become a major fund-raiser for so-called 527 committees -- groups named for their section of the tax code that were not addressed by the new law and remain one of the last avenues for contributing six- and seven-figure checks. Her work has put her at the center of a battle over whether these groups should be further regulated by the commission.

Barring any new restrictions, Ms. Malcolm will continue to raise tens of millions for the Media Fund and America Coming Together, two of the wealthiest 527 committees dedicated to defeating President Bush. She poses a double threat to Republicans as the founder of Emily's List, a group that pioneered small-contributor fund-raising in the 1980's to help female Democrats. Emily's List is now the nation's largest political action committee. -- For '04 Democratic Campaigns, She's Queen of the Hat-Passers (New York Times)