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Campaign finance advocates worry GOP Congress may attack contribution limits to candidates, parties

Campaign finance reform advocates are still hoping that Congress will pass a bill that sheds light on the $126 million in undisclosed cash that was spent attacking candidates in the last election cycle, but they’re also starting to play defense when it comes to House Republicans proposals once they take office. In response to rumors swirling that Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), who may head the House Administration Committee, is interested in rolling back limits on personal contributions to candidates and parties in order to even the playing field with outside groups, Democracy 21′s Fred Wertheimer says that he and other groups will remain on alert.

“We’re going to carefully monitor and adamantly oppose any efforts by Republicans to either repeal the soft money ban or greatly increase the limits on contributions to parties and candidates, which would have the same effect,” said Wertheimer. “The argument is going to be made that now that parties are the only ones still under the old campaign finance system, then we better take the limits of the parties. But that’s a argument that says we ought to deal with the potentially corrupting influence of outside spending by opening the door to more direct forms of corrupting influence though direct donations to congressmen.”

The rumors are the product of comments Lungren made the other week in a conversation with the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Morain, in which he floated the idea that lifting the contribution limits for parties and candidates would be one way to keep the growing influence of outside groups in check. As to whether Lungren is planning to put his ideas into legislation, a call to his office yielded only the news that the congressman was recovering from knee surgery and a promise to call back later.

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