Reform Party Chief Seeks End of Soft Money

From Associated Press

Reform Party Chairman Pat Choate turned from his own party’s problems Tuesday to the general election, challenging Al Gore and George W. Bush to prove their claims to be reformers by forgoing unregulated campaign contributions.

“Either do the reform thing--stop taking soft money, stop taking PAC money--or stop calling yourself a reformer,” Choate said at a news conference at the National Press Club, one day after a federal judge upheld his chairmanship of the fractured organization.

He said stabilizing the party won’t be as difficult as skeptics contend.

“George Bush is going to have a tougher time getting John McCain’s endorsement than I am pulling this party together,” Choate said.

But more trouble was already brewing over the same issue that sparked much of the original infighting: where to hold the party’s nominating convention Aug. 15.


Several Reform Party officials said Patrick J. Buchanan, the front-runner for the presidential nomination, and some party leaders now want the event moved from Long Beach, Calif. Buchanan’s allies, including supporters of party founder Ross Perot, fought for that site against backers of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. They wanted the event held in his home state.

The Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center is now a problem for logistical and political reasons, these officials said. A conference by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is scheduled there for the same week, which would leave the party fewer than 12 hours to set up its event.

“What was envisioned is no longer possible,” Choate said.