DES MOINES, Iowa -- Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole exceeded the legal campaign fund-raising limit during a three-state sweep that ended here yesterday -- a benchmark viewed during the heat of the primary season as worrisome, but now treated by the Senate majority leader as a minor nuisance.
Dole campaign officials would not say how much money was raised at events the past few days in Iowa, Texas and Tennessee. But they confirmed that the tally would put the candidate's total fund raising beyond $37.2 million, the maximum that federal law allows presidential contenders to gather and spend before the national conventions in August.
"In every campaign, you know or hope at some point that you are going to hit the fund-raising ceiling," said Christina Martin, deputy press secretary for the Dole campaign. "It means that from this point on, [Mr. Dole] is able to focus his time and effort on Senate business and fund-raising for the party and other Republican candidates."
Texas organizers said that during the 27 hours Mr. Dole spent in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, Republicans raised $1.5 million in their effort to defeat President Clinton in the fall.
Reaching the limit would have been a problem had not Mr. Dole already wrapped up his party's nomination, given that his campaign has spent most of what it previously raised.
But now, former Texas GOP Chairman Fred Meyer noted, the Dole campaign can take advantage of loopholes that allow him to raise money for other Republican committees working for his election in November.
"What it shows you is that the fund-raising limit is not a real limit," said Josh Goldstein, research director for the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington group that monitors the financing of political campaigns.
"There are so many loopholes that we have that whatever the limit is all the presidential candidates are able to circumvent the rules."
Through the end of February, Dole campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that he had raised $33.9 million and had qualified in January for at least another $3 million in federal matching funds, Mr. Goldstein said.
One way the election law allows candidates to get around the spending limit is by diverting some of the dollars to the campaign's "compliance" committee -- a separate fund used to help with compliance of federal election laws, including payments to accountants and lawyers.
Also benefiting from the campaign swing that ended Saturday will be the Victory '96 committee, the Republican National Committee's overall election effort for races in November.
Congress returns this week from its Easter recess, and the majority leader faces a crowded agenda that he hopes will help him draw favorable distinctions with Mr. Clinton.
"We need to develop our agenda, the Republican agenda, the Dole agenda, and lay it out there for the American people to make a judgment," Mr. Dole said.
Pub Date: 4/15/96