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Campaign finance reform groups allege violations by Ashcroft

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Organizations advocating campaign finance reform have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging fund-raising violations by Attorney General John Ashcroft when he was a senator.

Common Cause, Alliance for Democracy and the National Voting Rights League, along with two Missouri voters, filed the complaint.

The complaint alleges that Ashcroft's campaign committee for his Senate re-election bid, Ashcroft 2000, rented fund-raising lists it obtained as an in-kind donation from Ashcroft's political action committee, Spirit of America PAC. The complaint goes on to say that Spirit of America PAC contributed $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election to Ashcroft 2000, reaching the statutory limit of $10,000.

Campaign finance laws consider contributions to include "anything of value." The in-kind donation of donor lists, it is alleged, had "substantial market value" and therefore was a violation.

The complaint relies heavily on a newspaper article written by the Washington Post's Walter Pincus published on February 1.

The attorney general's spokeswoman, Mindy Tucker, referred inquiries about the complaint to Spirit of America PAC.

Spirit of America PAC's executive director, Garrett Lott, said in a statement, "The committee has taken great care to meet all of the FEC's requirements. The committee's procedures in this and other matters were examined by counsel and are in full compliance. We are confident that the FEC will agree and find that the complaint is without merit."

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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