http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/1/13/165221.shtml Democrat 'Soft Money' Groups Refuse to Explain Evasion of Campaign Finance 'Reform' NewsMax.com Wires Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2004 WASHINGTON A House committee chairman on Tuesday gave Democrats running new "soft money" groups one more chance to answer questions about their activities before he decides whether to subpoena them for a hearing. At issue is whether soft money - corporate, union and unlimited donations - is illegally finding its way into this year's high-stakes presidential and congressional elections. A new campaign law broadly prohibits the use of soft money in federal elections. Several interest groups have been formed in recent months to collect big contributions and conduct get-out-the-vote drives and other election activities as Democrats and Republicans battle over control of the White House and Congress. House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Ney, R-Ohio, wants the leaders of several of the new groups to appear at a committee hearing and answer questions about their use of soft money. Pro-GOP Groups Not Afraid to Talk The Democrat groups' leaders so far have refused. They argue that their activities are legal, that the committee lacks the authority to conduct the investigation, and that the inquiry is being driven by partisan politics. The heads of two GOP-leaning groups have agreed to testify. Ney sent the Democrat activists letters Tuesday asking again that they cooperate. Ney says his committee, which oversees federal elections, has a responsibility to see whether the new campaign law is being followed. If they again refuse to testify, Ney will decide whether to subpoena them, spokesman Brian Walsh said. Ney also asked the groups to give the committee any documents they have involving soft money and correspondence with national party officials and federal candidates and officeholders. He told the groups not to destroy any documents that could be relevant. Ney set no deadline for their responses. Ney's letter went to three groups involved in the presidential race - America Votes, America Coming Together and Partnership for America's Families - and two active in congressional elections: New House PAC and Democratic Senate Majority Fund. Howard Wolfson, founder of New House PAC, said he had not seen the letter and had no immediate reaction. Jim Jordan, a spokesman for America Votes, America Coming Together and Partnership for America's Families, said the groups were reviewing Ney's letter and would cooperate with any congressional inquiry "that is, in fact, fair, equitable, nonpartisan, and not a White House-orchestrated exercise in election-year politics." The two GOP groups agreeing to testify are Americans for a Better Country, focused on the presidential election, and The Leadership Forum, which has said it will spend at the state and local level. The Republican National Committee is urging the Federal Election Commission to block partisan organizations from using soft money in get-out-the-vote drives in federal elections. Campaign watchdogs plan Thursday to announce legal action against several groups. © 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.