NY Senate Race: Use of 'Soft Money' at Issue

By Bob Melvin | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Campaign leaders for Republican US Congressman Rick Lazio and Democrat Hillary Clinton were scheduled to meet late Wednesday night to finalize an agreement for both sides to end the use of soft money in their New York senate race.

Lazio Wednesday challenged Mrs Clinton to stop raising and spending soft money during her campaign.

"We (the Lazio and Gore camps) must hammer out this deal together immediately because, (with) every minute that goes by, New York's airwaves are that much more polluted by this (soft money) advertising," Lazio Campaign Manager Bill Dal Col said.
Lazio presented Clinton with letters signed by 114 groups that Clinton claimed are trying to help Lazio with soft money ads.

Those letters indicated that the groups supporting Lazio will stay out of the race as long as Mrs Clinton stops raising and spending soft money and receives similar assurances from her backers as well. The Lazio camp termed Clinton supporters as "left-wing groups backing her candidacy."

"For the past several weeks I have tried and tried to get Mrs Clinton to join me in banishing soft money from this race. Simply put, it is a matter of trust, a matter of holding Mrs. Clinton to her word, and a desire to make public service honorable again in the eyes of young people," Lazio told members of the Associated Press Association at their fall media meeting in New York City.
"I have repeatedly asked her to join me in eliminating soft money from this race, and she has backtracked, waffled and made continuing demands.

"While you might think that someone nicknamed 'The Queen of Dirty Money' by the (New York) Daily News would want to clean up her act, Mrs Clinton has refused and reneged on her own statements," Lazio said.

The Lazio campaign claimed that Mrs Clinton's campaign has repeatedly promised to close down her soft money accounts if Lazio obtained the pledges that he (Lazio) unveiled on Wednesday.

The Lazio campaign cited a press release from the Clinton Campaign dated September 19 that said, "Hillary has repeatedly offered to eliminate soft money and independent expenditures from the campaign if Mr Lazio obtains signatures from his allies pledging to stop their negative attacks. After the debate (Lazio-Clinton NY senate debate), the Clinton Campaign provided Mr Lazio with a 'Pledge of Non-Activity' for his allies to sign."

Lazio stated that he has come forward with his list of backers pledging no more soft money use in the campaign, and he challenged Mrs Clinton to prove she will do the same.

Lazio said, "I am calling on you, the assembled members of New York State's media, to hold Mrs Clinton's feet to the fire on this. I don't have to tell all of you how the eyes of America are on this campaign and what a tremendous opportunity we have here in New York to set a positive example for the rest of the nation."

Several attempts by CNSNews.com to reach the Hillary 2000 campaign headquarters in New York for comment were unsuccessful.