« California has misplaced certifications of e-voting systems | Main | IRS warns charities and churches about campaigning »

If you can't lick'em, join'em

The House Republican most closely identified with legislation to reduce the influence of big money in politics signaled his support Friday for GOP groups that begin raising donations in unlimited amounts to aid President Bush's re-election.

"I can't tell the Republicans to disarm when the Democrats aren't," said Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, one day after the Federal Election Commission declined to restrain Democratic-aligned organizations that have poured millions into television advertising designed to defeat President Bush.

His remarks were largely symbolic because senior GOP officials responded to the FEC's decision by signaling their eagerness for Bush's supporters to begin doing what the president's opponents have done for months. At the same time, Shays' comments underscored the slow-motion collapse of the most sweeping effort in a generation to rein in the political influence of big money.

Senior Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two existing organizations are well-positioned to assume a prominent role for Republicans. They include Progress for America and the Leadership Forum. The latter group's key officials are former Rep. Bill Paxon of New York, who once headed the House GOP campaign organization, and Susan Hirschmann, a former chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. -- Shays Tells GOP Groups to Aid in Bush Bid (AP via Biloxi Sun Herald)