WASHINGTON - The financially strapped Democratic National Committee won't be able to call on Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., for fund-raising help anytime soon.
Mr. Cleland issued a statement Thursday saying he will not take part in any DNC fund-raising activities while the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is investigating allegations of wrongdoing during last year's elections. He is on that committee, and the DNC is among the focuses of the probe.
"I do not think it would be appropriate to do such fund raising," Mr. Cleland said in the statement. "Therefore, I will refrain from doing so until the investigation is concluded."
The committee is scheduled to begin hearings this summer into allegations of campaign-finance abuses during the 1996 presidential and congressional campaigns.
Political watchdog groups praised Mr. Cleland for avoiding even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his political activities and his duties as a member of the Governmental Affairs Committee.
"A judge in a court case wouldn't participate in events involving a party to a lawsuit he's hearing," said Paul Hendrie, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics. "This sends a positive signal to people that he's going to make a good-faith effort to show bipartisanship."
But whether Mr. Cleland's pledge will have any effect on the DNC's struggling coffers is problematic. Jennifer Wardrep, a spokeswoman for the senator, said he has not done any fund raising for the committee this year.
Mr. Cleland said his decision to swear off fund-raising for the DNC will not affect his efforts for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
A Democratic Senate aide noted that the DSCC has not been involved in any of the allegations of wrongdoing that began surfacing in Washington before last November's elections.