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Greens Gain Legal Status of GOP, Democrats

November 09, 2001|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Green Party has established enough national presence to gain the same legal status as the Republican and Democratic parties, regulators ruled Thursday.

The Federal Election Commission voted, 6 to 0, to recognize the Green Party of the United States as a national committee.

That means the national Green Party can now accept donations of up to $20,000 a year per donor and pass money on to state and local party committees.

Other parties recognized by the FEC as national committees include the Reform, Libertarian, Natural Law and U.S. Taxpayers parties.

"The decision of the FEC adds to the enormous momentum the Green Party now enjoys," said Dean Myerson, the Green Party's political coordinator. "We are running more candidates, electing more candidates, gaining more members and support."

The national committee will provide an important new source of party-building finances for the state and local committees, which can only accept donations of up to $5,000 a year from each individual supporter.

The Green Party has about 200,000 members nationally and chapters in more than 30 states and around the world. It won at least 26 local seats in Tuesday's elections, including two seats on the Minneapolis City Council. The party has yet to win a congressional district; all 57 Green congressional candidates last year lost.

The party hopes the additional money will help it collect the signatures and fight the legal battles sometimes required to land a spot on state ballots.

The action does not guarantee the party the federal funds that the Republican and Democratic parties receive to help finance their national conventions every four years.

Also, it does not promise the Greens' presidential nominee the federal money that Republican and Democratic presidential candidates draw for their primary and general election campaigns.

That is because the Green Party has not won the 5% of the national presidential vote needed to qualify for federal funds. Green nominee Ralph Nader collected 3% of the popular vote last November.

The Greens last sought national committee status in 1996. The FEC said the party had not met the requirements, which include nominating candidates for various federal offices in several states and engaging in ongoing activities including voter registration.

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