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Ickes party-man and Ickes 527-man

The New York Times reports: Harold M. Ickes is a founder of an organization created to help defeat President Bush this fall, a group that he emphasizes operates wholly independently of the campaign of Senator John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee.

But that has not stopped him from courting some of the Democrats' wealthiest donors here at the Four Seasons, a nexus of party operatives, Kerry campaign officials and friendly celebrities gathered for the party's convention this week. In a luxurious suite where guests nibble on chocolate ganache tarts and sip espresso, he asks them to give and give more.

Then, in the evenings, this onetime White House deputy chief of staff throws on his credentials as a Democratic Party superdelegate and joins party functionaries gathered for the Democratic convention at the FleetCenter as one of their own.

Just how precisely this squares with the new campaign finance law that allows such groups, known as 527 organizations, to raise unlimited sums for politics so long as they do not coordinate with the candidates or the national parties depends on how much one takes Mr. Ickes's word about the distance between him and the Democrats. -- A Delegate, a Fund-Raiser, and a Very Fine Line