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How to give 20x the legal limit

Democrats and Republicans alike have found a clever way to get around Missouri's campaign contribution limits. And as the 2004 campaigns heat up, the practice appears to becoming more popular.

Here's how it works: State law limits individuals, businesses and political action committees to giving a total of $1,200 per election to a statewide candidate, such as someone running for governor. Smaller limits apply to other races, such as Senate or House contests.

But the law allows political party committees to give 20 times that amount - $12,000 in cash for a gubernatorial candidate plus $12,000 in in-kind contributions such as staff help or printed campaign materials.

Recognizing the loophole, people can give a maximum amount to a candidate's campaign, then write additional checks to various political committees, which pass the extra money on to the candidate.

The practice apparently is legal. -- Campaign finance laws spur PAC proliferation (AP via Columbia Daily Tribune)