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DNC Challenges Republicans To Forgo Contributions From PACs And Lobbyists, Reveal Top Fundraisers

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WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Committee (DNC) issued a challenge to its Republican counterpart on Wednesday, calling on the party and its presidential candidates to make fundraising more transparent and refrain from taking contributions from political action committees or federal lobbyists.

The letter from DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) was faxed and hand-delivered to Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters on Wednesday.

It comes just days after RNC Chair Reince Priebus said President Obama should be investigated for potentially "criminal behavior" after he filmed a fundraising web video for his reelection campaign inside the White House. (Federal law bans political activities in government offices, but past presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have filmed ads in the White House and concluded they were not violating that law.)

"I have noticed with great curiosity yours and the Republican Party's apparent newfound interest in transparency and accountability as it relates to campaign finance," writes Wasserman Schultz. "Curious because, after all, the Republican Party has fought in Congress and in the courts virtually every effort over the past decade or more to rein in the influence of moneyed special interests in politics and to require greater disclosure and transparency."

From the specific calls for transparency in Wasserman Schultz's letter:

That being said, assuming that your and the Republican Party’s newfound interest in this issue is sincere, I call on you to take concrete steps toward reducing the influence of special interests over your activities and increasing openness and transparency, as the DNC and the Obama campaign have done over the past several years, by doing the following:

As the DNC has done since 2008, have the RNC forgo accepting contributions from Political Action Committees or federal lobbyists.

Call on the Republican Party’s candidates for President to forgo accepting contributions from Political Action Committees or federal lobbyists as President Obama has done since becoming a candidate for President in 2007.

Call on the Republican Party’s candidates for President to disclose their major fundraisers, also known as bundlers, which President Obama has done and which President Bush did before him.

All of the GOP presidential candidates have said they will not be revealing their top campaign fundraisers, even though Obama, former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) all did so when they were running for president.

In his recent disclosures this month, Obama voluntarily revealed the identities of his 244 bundlers, a group that has raised more than $35 million for his 2012 campaign.

The RNC did not immediately return a request for comment.

Full letter below:

July 20, 2011

Chairman Reince Priebus
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Chairman Priebus:

I have noticed with great curiosity yours and the Republican Party’s apparent newfound interest in transparency and accountability as it relates to campaign finance. Curious because, after all, the Republican Party has fought in Congress and in the courts virtually every effort over the past decade or more to rein in the influence of moneyed special interests in politics and to require greater disclosure and transparency.

The Republican Party cheered when the Supreme Court, in its infamous Citizens United decision, struck down a law that prohibited corporations from buying elections and that had been on the books for over a century. The Republican Party blocked efforts in the last Congress to pass the Disclose Act, which would have required outside groups to reveal who is funding their political activity and which was offered in response to the Citizens United ruling. And the RNC has fought in court to repeal the national party committee’s ban on accepting unlimited soft money contributions – the very activity that was at the heart of wringing the special interest influence out of the political process, as envisioned by McCain-Feingold.

That being said, assuming that your and the Republican Party’s newfound interest in this issue is sincere, I call on you to take concrete steps toward reducing the influence of special interests over your activities and increasing openness and transparency, as the DNC and the Obama campaign have done over the past several years, by doing the following:

As the DNC has done since 2008, have the RNC forgo accepting contributions from Political Action Committees or federal lobbyists.

Call on the Republican Party’s candidates for President to forgo accepting contributions from Political Action Committees or federal lobbyists as President Obama has done since becoming a candidate for President in 2007.

Call on the Republican Party’s candidates for President to disclose their major fundraisers, also known as bundlers, which President Obama has done and which President Bush did before him.

The DNC and the Obama campaign have taken these steps in the interest of transparency and in an effort to make sure the voices of regular Americans are heard in the political process. By doing the same, the Republican Party and its candidates would assure the public that your party has its best interests at heart, not just the best interests of the special interests, as most voters believe is the case today.

Should you take these steps, you will help restore confidence in the political process and in your own party. Should you decline to take these steps, however, some in your own party who have referred to your latest machinations on this issue as 'absurd', 'an embarrassment' and 'laughable' will be confirmed in such an assessment.

I look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair
Democratic National Committee

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