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The News & Advance (Lynchburg, VA)
August 29, 2000


By Chelyen Davis

The News & Advance

The Pat Buchanan faction of the Reform Party has added racketeering to the list of complaints opponents will face in a court hearing today.

Two factions of the splintered Reform Party will square off in federal court in Lynchburg this morning, with Buchanan's side asking Judge Norman Moon to approve a temporary restraining order to bar the opposition from using the Reform Party name.

At stake is $12.5 million in federal election money, and whatever votes the name recognition of the Reform Party name can generate in November.

According to an additional filing Tuesday, Buchanan is also accusing his opponents within the party of racketeering in their efforts to disqualify Buchanan's presidential bid and promote an alternative Reform Party presidential candidate, John Hagelin.

The motion filed Tuesday accuses Hagelin and Sue Harris DeBauche, the Reform Party's state vice-chairwoman for Virginia, of using interstate wires to conduct what the motion calls a "scheme to defraud" Buchanan and his faction of the Reform Party.

By "interstate wires," Buchanan's faction means telephone calls and e-mails. The motion claims DeBauche and other Hagelin supporters have used the Reform Party Web site, e-mailed each other and called each other in an attempt to promote Hagelin and denounce Buchanan....

The Reform Party split at its national convention in early August. Delegates nominated Buchanan for president, and opposing delegates, declaring Buchanan's nomination to be illegitimate, walked out, staged their own convention and chose Hagelin to run for president.

Since then, both sides have been using the Reform Party name, but today's court hearing may put an end to that - and none too soon for state election commissions across the country, which are trying to work out which Reform Party candidate should go on the ballot.

Virginia already decided - as of the deadline Friday, Buchanan had filed as the Reform Party presidential nominee and Hagelin had filed as the Natural Law Party nominee. Other states are sidestepping the issue in similar fashion. Others, notably Iowa, drew the two candidates' names out of a hat to determine who would be on the ballot under the Reform Party banner (Buchanan won that one).

Some states haven't had to decide anything yet - their deadlines for candidates to file for third-party ballot access aren't until September. And officials in at least one state, Kansas, are hoping federal officials will resolve the dispute.

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