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McCollum's money matters



Remember the "screaming granny" TV commercial? U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Longwood, does. It helped him get elected.

Shortly before the 1996 congressional elections, according to McCollum's media strategist, "every adult in Central Florida should have seen" the spot, which warned of Democratic chicanery and the impending death of Medicare.

McCollum was one of four GOP House members who helped raise money to pay for the spot. But he had to break campaign finance laws to do it.

A disclaimer said the ads were paid for by the "Seniors Coalition." But the spots actually were funded by another nonprofit -- the Coalition for Our Children's Future -- which was a GOP shell created to circumvent campaign finance laws.

According to the March 16 issue of The Nation, the coalition falsely claimed its $4.7 million budget was raised in increments of less than $5,000, allowing it to shield donor's names. Under federal law, organizations with the coalition's tax status cannot engage in partisan politics. But The Nation says McCollum asked his own backers to contribute to the group, allowing the Republican National Committee to save its funds for the presidential race.

Now look for McCollum -- and presumably his contributors -- in the soon-to-be-released Senate investigative report.

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