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Group to File FEC Complaint Against Nader

September 06, 1996|JAMES BORNEMEIER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — A California group announced Thursday that it will file a complaint next week with the Federal Election Commission, charging consumer activist Ralph Nader with failing to disclose his campaign and personal finances in his unconventional run for the White House.

Nader, who received the Green Party's nomination for president last month in Los Angeles, has vowed to keep his total campaign expenses under $5,000. If his campaign spent more than $5,000, he would be required under federal law to disclose his personal finances.

But the Santa Monica-based organization, Voter Revolt, says a series of speech-making visits by Nader may have already exceeded that amount in travel expenses alone.

"Nader is asking people for their votes. According to the law, people are entitled to know something about his campaign and personal finances," said Michael Johnson of Voter Revolt.

Nader helped found Voter Revolt in 1988 to push for the passage of Proposition 103, which called for a rollback of automobile insurance premiums. Since then, however, the group has come under the control of people opposed to Nader, who now labels the group "Silicon Valley and insurance industry mercenaries."

Voter Revolt calculates that Nader has spent $5,200 in trips to 12 cities since the first of the year. Nader claims those trips were for speeches, not for the campaign, and therefore do not count. Using press accounts, however, Voter Revolt claims that Nader held political discussions at his speeches.

Nader agrees that he talked about his campaign during the appearances in question, but argues that his remarks came in response to questions after his standard speech on consumer protection and corporate responsibility.

"You don't give up your 1st Amendment rights when you're a political candidate," Nader said. "If someone asks me a question about the campaign, I answer. But that's not a campaign trip."

Nader estimates he has spent less than $1,300 on his campaign, citing two trips to California and miscellaneous expenses for phones, stamps and paper.

"I have not campaigned in any other state except California," Nader said.

Voter Revolt also claims that the Green Party has made thousands of dollars in expenditures on Nader's behalf, leading efforts to get his name on dozens of state ballots.

Nader says he has no direct tie to any of the Green Party's money-raising efforts.

"There's no coordination whatsoever. The Green Party is obligated not to raise any money in my name. That's one reason it has raised so little," Nader said.

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