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ACT Brings In $6.5 Million During 1st Quarter

America Coming Together, one of the largest and most active Democratic soft money groups, raised and spent $6.5 million in the first three months of 2004, according to reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service Thursday.

ACT has now raised roughly $19 million to fund its grassroots organizing and voter registration efforts in 17 states considered the battleground in the 2004 presidential race.

Along with the Media Fund and America Votes, ACT makes up the tripartite head of the so-called shadow Democratic Party designed to counter the well-funded organizing and television campaign being put together by President Bush as he seeks a second term.

“The fundraising for both ACT and the Media Fund has been strong and timely,” said Jim Jordan, a spokesman for both groups. “Each organization is meeting its cash flow requirements and fulfilling its institutional mission. We’re grateful, of course, for the generosity and dedication of our donors.”

Again, the vast majority of those donations came from a handful of extremely wealthy individuals.

Newsweb Corp. President Fred Eychaner contributed $500,000; New York City philanthropists Lewis Cullman ($450,000) and Alida Messinger ($250,000) were also large donors to the group in the period.

Neither financier George Soros nor Progressive Corp. Chairman Peter Lewis gave to ACT between Jan. 1 and March 31. The two combined to donate $8 million in 2003.

The largest source of contributions to ACT came from transfers by the Victory Campaign 2004 — a joint fundraising agreement that allows donors to write a single check that benefits both ACT and the Media Fund. That group transferred nearly $2.6 million to ACT in the period.

ACT’s $6.5 million of expenditures were all to its hard money arm, which must report its activities to the Federal Election Commission today. It had not done so at press time.

Known as 527s for the section of IRS tax code that applies to their activities, ACT and its sister groups were set up to collect the soft money previously allocated to the national parties.

Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, those party committees cannot accept any soft dollar contributions.

The Media Fund’s report was not available at press time but the group has funded ads in 17 battleground states for several months and spent nearly $12 million so far this year.

America Votes, the smallest of the three groups, reported raising $280,000 and expending $313,000 in the period. It is tasked with ensuring that the activities of ACT and the Media Fund do not overlap.

The Democratic groups received another piece of good news Wednesday when the FEC commissioners signaled that they were unlikely to take any action that could potentially curb the 527s’ activities before the November election.

Republican National Committee officials have led the charge to stymie the shadow Democratic Party, which they allege is subverting the intention of BCRA.

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