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GOP 527's are raising money; Dems start 'trustee' program

After months spent trying to shut down Democratic advocacy groups that have raised tens of millions of dollars in unlimited contributions to support Senator John Kerry, Republicans are scrambling to set up similar organizations to collect donations to help President Bush.

The Federal Election Commission's decision earlier this month to postpone new campaign finance rules that would have restricted these groups sent Republican operatives rushing to recruit fund-raisers and schedule events.

"We have started to reach out to folks and be aggressive right out of the blocks," said Brian McCabe, president of Progress for America, which is forming a group to raise money for television commercials, voter mobilization programs or whatever else is needed. "Our goal is to match what the liberals have done in the last year and counter their message." ...

Mr. Kerry placed members of his financial team at the Democratic National Committee earlier this year. Mr. Maroney said the goal was to get major Kerry supporters to work on behalf of the party. "Our job is to be as creative as possible bringing all these donors to the D.N.C.,'' Mr. Maroney said.

Part of that effort is the trustees program. Created by Bob Farmer, the Kerry campaign's national treasurer, it is intended to capitalize on an outpouring of Democratic money and enthusiasm in recent weeks.

Programs have existed for years to entice wealthy fund-raisers and donors to work for the party, setting goals and often offering special benefits to those who meet them.

Mr. Maroney said the same was planned for the trustees, but he had no specifics because the program was still so new; no one has yet officially qualified for the title. Perhaps a special event at the convention will be held for them, he said, like a dinner with Mr. Kerry and his wife, Teresa. -- Republicans Rush to Form New Finance Groups (New York Times)