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Congress is the new soft money source

The New York Times reports: To move up the ladder in Congress, you must do more than win votes. You are, quite literally, expected to pay your dues.

If you are a rank-and-file member of the House, the amount is up to $100,000. If your ambitions are to preside over a powerful committee, the duty is $300,000. For a top party leader, the tally can climb beyond $600,000.

Make those checks payable to the Republican or Democratic Congressional campaign committees.

Whether or not they are in competitive races, lawmakers are asked to mount vigorous fund-raising drives to fill their own campaign chests. Then they dole to the party, which spreads the money to the most competitive campaigns in the country.

Four years after Congress tried to reduce the influence of money in politics by rewriting the rules of how campaigns are financed, Republicans and Democrats alike have found myriad replacements for the river of financial contributions known as soft money. -- Of Party Dues and Deadbeats on Capitol Hill - New York Times

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