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Par for the Course?\

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RALEIGH — While you were at work today, many of your state lawmakers were hittingthe links, raising money for political campaigns and the like. Locallobbyists put up big bucks to putt around on the golf course with ourrepresentatives.

It's all perfectly legal. For the right price, you could hit a few ballswith North CarolinaDemocratic lawmakers at Raleigh Country Club, or you could play a fewholes with Republican lawmakers at MacGregor Downs Country Club inCary.

You could sponsor a hole at the Democratic tournament for $2,500. At theRepublican tournament, you could do the same for $900. But, do those bigprice tags also buy you influence with the State Legislature's bighitters?According to the North Carolina Democratic Party's Gail Nardi, absolutelynot.

Nash County Republican Representative Gene Arnold says that the fairwayfundraisers amount to nothing more than getting something for your money..

The Common Sense Foundation says that the golf fundraisers only add up tobig problems. Activist Chris Fitzsimon says that although there's nothingillegal about teeing off for cash, there are plenty of ethical problemswith which to deal.

Common Sense and other watchdog groups are trying to get golf fundraisersout of politics. They are pushing to eliminate the events as a part ofproposed campaign reform. Right now, campaign finance reform proposalshave not made it out of committees in either house of the Legislature.

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