October 15, 2002 11:52 AM PDT

Donate cash through your ISP

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The Federal Election Commission has cleared the way for people to donate to political parties through an Internet service provider.

The FEC last week gave the green light to a program that would require subscribers of a certain ISP to donate to a federal political committee or charity. The plan, submitted by marketing company Careau & Co. and fund-raising group Mohre Communications, is aimed at politically savvy computer users. Mohre will provide the ISP service.

Under the terms of the plan, outlined in papers the companies submitted to the FEC, subscribers would pay $17.76 per month, with $2 of that fee going to up to five political committees or charities of a customer's choosing.

The companies described the service, called the America Plan, as an effort to level the playing field when it comes to campaign finance.

"The Internet represents a still-new technology for facilitating direct contact between voters and candidates," Richard Carrot, CEO of Careau, wrote in a letter to the FEC. "It also represents an important opportunity to allow voters to begin replacing the 'big money' and 'special interest' groups in the funding of federal candidates."

The companies did not respond to requests for comment.

The intersection of politics and the Web has forced the FEC to grapple with a host of new issues surrounding campaign finance. In August, the FEC said that senders of mobile phone text-based political ads don't have to disclose who funded them, essentially putting the messages in the same category as bumper stickers.

Last year, the commission approved an innovative political action committee idea hatched in the dot-com heyday. PAC.com, launched by some Silicon Valley business people, won FEC approval to accept stock donations to be put into a pool, cashed in, and doled out to politicians. However, the FEC rejected PAC.com's request to give stock directly to politicians.

 

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