Last Gasp Of Campaign '96 Tuesday In Texas -- Dec. 9, 1996
New Texas Seats May Determine House's Balance Of Power -- Oct. 23, 1996
Soft Money Flows Like Water In Texas Runoffs
By Brooks Jackson/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 10) -- In today's runoff elections in Texas, both the Democratic and Republican parties were exploiting the very latest in campaign finance loopholes, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads. All negative.
A Democratic ad attacking freshman Republican Steve Stockman calls him too extreme. "Fact: Steve Stockman tried to intervene with the attorney general in support of the dangerous militia movement. Maybe that's why the Galveston Daily News says Stockman attracts 'a lunatic fringe.'"
Now, an ad that says the congressman is supported by lunatics may sound like a campaign commercial, but Democrats claim it's only an "issue ad." It never says explicitly, "Vote against Congressman Stockman."
Instead, it says this: "Call Steve Stockman -- tell him his views are too extreme. Support our families."
If these were normal campaign ads the party could only spend about $60,000 on them in each district.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says it has spent $750,000 in the two Texas runoffs where a Democrat is on the ballot.
Furthermore, these ads are being paid for mostly with soft money -- not corporate money in this case because that's illegal under Texas state law, but money from individuals giving over the normal federal limits.
And Republicans are using the issue-ad loophole, too.
Here's one they ran against Stockman's opponent. "Nick Lampson's office has been investigated by two grand juries and sued by the government. He's been held in contempt of court. And even fined by a judge. Give Nick Lampson a call. Let him know what you think about this issue."
There it is again -- "give a call" -- not a vote.
Republicans say they're spending $525,000 on ads in these two runoff elections, at least 70 percent of it in Stockman's district.
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