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Gavel To Gavel: AllPolitics' Campaign Fund-Raising Special Report
Key Terms From The Money Trail
To understand the story, you've got to know the language
Hard Money vs. Soft Money
Two kinds of political donations are at the heart of the fund-raising controversy: hard and soft money. Presidential and congressional candidates crave hard money because it may be spent directly on their campaigns, in any way they see fit.
But there are limits. Individuals may give a candidate only up to $1,000 per election, and corporate and union donations are barred by federal law.
There are no similar limits on soft money. Soft money may be given in any amount, but only to political parties, not individual candidates. It is supposed to be used to promote the parties, not presidential or congressional candidates.
Independent expenditures are funds spent by individuals, political parties or political action committees on their own campaign messages.
Independent expenditures may be used for ads which are specifically for or against a candidate. However, the ads may NOT be produced with the help or approval of the candidate. There is NO limit to this type of spending.
When a high-ranking member of the administration or a member of Congress is accused of a federal crime, an independent counsel may be named to investigate and prosecute the case. The attorney general decides if the appointment is needed.
But a federal court actually picks someone for the job