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Campaign Spending Probe Urged By Common Cause

The Justice Department is reviewing a request for an independent counsel to investigate alleged violations by the Clinton and Dole campaigns of federal spending limits, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday.

“We are in the process of reviewing it,” Reno told reporters at her weekly news briefing. “I think we’ve got to review it, see exactly what the allegations are.”

Reno said she received a letter Wednesday from Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that lobbies for tighter restrictions on campaign spending, urging the department to seek appointment of an independent counsel. By law, Reno has up to 120 days to decide whether that step is warranted.

Common Cause accused the Clinton and Dole presidential campaigns of trampling spending limits by allowing their parties to pay for millions of dollars worth of television ads.

Pat Choate, Ross Perot’s Reform Party running mate, applauded Common Cause.

“Both of them are funded by the same sources,” said Choate of the two political parties. “Both of them are funded by the same people. If you want reform, come with us.”

Both candidates and the Democratic and Republican parties contended the practice was legal.

Choate disagreed, saying, “both parties secretly, knowingly, have attempted to steal the campaign by using this money.”

Common Cause spokeswoman Ann McBride called the more than $48 million in party advertising for the two presidential candidates “the most massive violations of the campaign finance laws since the Watergate scandal.”