The Republican National Committee (RNC) has issued subpoenas for a number of labor, women’s rights, civic and environmental groups, demanding fundraising records, documents detailing political strategies, and internal communications, the Washington Post reported today. This tactic represents the most aggressive to date in the battle between proponents and opponents of the McCain-Feingold bill, which outlawed soft money. As an opponent of the new campaign finance laws, the RNC claims that these subpoenas are necessary to prove that the laws allow special interest groups to continue to collect “soft money” while prohibiting national political parties from doing the same.
The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), one of the groups targeted by the RNC, believes that the subpoenas are an election year strategy to tie up groups such as NARAL with extensive legal fees and staff time in order to keep them from engaging fully in political activities. “This is a witch hunt and nothing short of it,” stated NARAL president Kate Michelman. “What they have asked from us is all the most sensitive documents that reveal our strategies, our operations, our people, our lists, how we conduct our business.” Among the other groups targeted by the RNC are Emily’s List, an organization that raises campaign funds for pro-choice, Democratic women, the National Education Association, the League of Conservation Voters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Common Cause, Democracy 21 and the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School.