ASPEN -- This morning, moderated a panel on campaign finance with Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 and Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute. Before the panel began, Olson and Wertheimer had an off-line debate the legality of the Republican Governors Association fundraising technique that the Wall Street Journal unveiled this morning. Wertheimer thought there was nothing to argue: a 527 group cannot raise funds on the promise of helping a candidate for federal office. Olson responded that, in his view, anything the RGA did to increase Republican turnout in Missouri would obviously help the Republican presidential candidate, so the RGA was simply describing reality.

On the panel, Wertheimer, who called himself a "genetic optimist," said he is confident that the new Congress will pass, and the new president will sign, a major overhaul of the public financing system for presidential campaigns, a key feature of which is a four-to-one match of small dollar contributions.

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