Campaign Finance Reform

FEC to Bush: Campaign Finance Laws Weren't Designed to Screen You from Public Criticism
Campaign Finance Reform

AP : "The Federal Election Commission has asked a court to throw out a lawsuit by Bush's campaign that seeks to force quick action on complaints against anti-Bush groups spending big donations in the presidential race.' The FEC stated that the Bush campaign won't suffer irreparable harm if its March complaints to the FEC about 'soft money' groups aren't resolved before the November election. The campaign finance laws aren't meant to help candidates avoid 'competitive harm,' FEC lawyers wrote. 'The Act was designed to protect the public interest - both by maintaining the integrity of the electoral process, and by avoiding the corruption and the appearance of corruption of the government,' they wrote. 'It was not the purpose of the Act to protect a candidate from public criticism, or from the registration of voters who might support his or her opponent."

Repugs - Who Fought Hardest against Campaign Reform - Now Want Campaign Reform as Way to Undercut Democrats
Campaign Finance Reform

Back when all the biggest money was going into the Bush/GOP campaign coffers, the Repugs fought the hardest against campaign finance reform - especially against soft money bans. But now that outside groups like MoveOn.org have effectively launched grassroots movements that have netted huge support and numbers of dollars for the Democrats, suddenly, the Repugs are waxing righteously indignant about "soft money." Btw - MoveOn.org and other grassroots campaigns not affiliated with a political party were never classes as political soft money - most especially not by the Repugs. The only reason the issue has come up is not how the money was raised - it WHO it is benefiting. If it were benefiting Bush, you can rest assured the Repugs would lead the fight to defned our "patriotic right" to give money to such campaigns.

Will McCain-Feingold Really Reduce Campaign Finance Corruption?
Campaign Finance Reform

WashPost reports: "But although the law gives an advantage to the GOP because of its ability to raise still-legal smaller contributions known as 'hard money,' [such as Bush's fundraising pyramids that bundle contributions -- the 'Pioneers' and 'Rangers'] a number of strategists believe both parties will be weakened in the long run. And the role of 'independent' groups acting in behalf of Republican or Democratic candidates, some of which are not required to disclose donors or expenditures, will grow. The court decision sanctions the activities of the growing network of 'independent' groups that are taking over many of the functions of the political parties. These organizations, many known as '527s' for the section of the tax code that regulates them, 'remain free to raise soft money to fund voter registration, [get out the vote] activities, mailings, and broadcast advertising,' the high court majority wrote."

Major Provisions of Campaign Finance Reform Upheld
Campaign Finance Reform

From the Alliance for Better Campaigns: "The Supreme Court ruling today upholding the major provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is a significant victory for campaign reformers, and indeed for all Americans. The ruling upholds the ban on so-called soft money contributions and the issue ad provision, thereby recognizing the need for the voices of citizens to be heard over the voices of special interests. 'Today's ruling is a giant step forward,' said Alliance for Better Campaigns President Meredith McGehee. 'This first step has opened the door for future reforms that open up our political system and promote campaigns in which ideas matter more than money.'" Click below for a full list of what the Court upheld and struck down.

Supreme Court Upholds McCain-Feingold by Narrow 5-4 Vote
Campaign Finance Reform

The Treasonous Three - Antonin Scalia, William Rehnquist, and Clarence Thomas - tried their best to overturn the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, but they only persuaded Anthony Kennedy, not Sandra Day O'Connor. "The law, which sought to control the influence of money in politics, was aimed primarily at two widespread practices. It prohibited national parties and federal candidates from raising and spending so-called 'soft money,' donations that are not subject to federal limits because they technically go to state political parties. And it clamped new regulations on 'issue ads,' commercials financed by interest groups, purportedly to advance their causes, which were actually thinly disguised partisan promotions of particular candidates for office."

Urge Your Senators to Support the 'Our Democracy, Our Airwaves Act'
Campaign Finance Reform

"I'm writing to ask you to join as a sponsor of S. 1497, Our Democracy, Our Airwaves Act, which is cosponsored by Senators John McCain, Russell Feingold and Richard Durbin. This legislation will help to reduce the demand for money in politics and help voters get more and better information about candidates and issues. The bill requires television and radio stations to air at least two hours per week of candidate issue discussion in the period before elections. It also enables qualifying candidates to air a limited number of free radio and television ads without having to raise huge amounts of money from wealthy contributors and special interests. And it close loopholes in a 30 year old law that is supposed to prevent stations from gouging candidates on advertising rates." Sign the letter to your Senator!

Parts of Campaign Finance Law Struck Down
Campaign Finance Reform

"A federal court Friday struck down most of a ban on the use of large corporate and union contributions by political parties, casting doubt on the future of the new campaign finance law that was supposed to govern next year's elections. The court... also ruled unconstitutional sweeping new restrictions on election-time political ads by special-interest groups and others. However, it said more narrow limits the law's sponsors included in the legislation as a backup were constitutional. The roughly 1,700-page ruling -- believed the longest ever produced by a federal district court -- clears the way for an immediate appeal by the losing parties to the U.S. Supreme Court." Whatever form this law takes, Bush will still be able to raise as much money as he wants. His Amway-like network of 'Pioneers' will harvest scores of individual contributions, or 'bundles' -- especially from members of rightwing organizations such as PACs and think tanks -- and the employees of pro-Bush executives.

Congress Meets Wall Street: Check Out this Amazing Poster from Public Campaign
Campaign Finance Reform

"Thanks to our current system of privately-financed elections, Congress has become a huge bazaar, where everyone knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Big corporations and the super-wealthy invest millions in political contributions and get all kinds of special deals in return... Should public policy be bought and sold like commodities in the stock market? Should a tiny elite, insulated from the everyday needs of average Americans, be able to buy politicians and obtain special treatment? Or should we offer candidates who refuse special-interest donations a source of 'clean' public money? Hope is on the horizon. Clean Money, Clean Elections public financing saves taxpayers money, saves public officials from the money chase, saves our democracy. And it's already passed in AZ, ME, MA, NC, and VT with more states on the way, raising the pressure on Washington for real reform. Which means we can change the state of the union." Check out the amazing poster!

Maryland Rightwing Governor-Elect's Free Ride in Luxury Helicopter Further Demonstrates that the GOP is in Bed with FOX
Campaign Finance Reform

It has now been revealed that Maryland's Governor-Elect Bob Ehrlich received use of a luxury helicopter during and after his campaign courtesy a company closely linked to FOX 45 TV. The free ride is now being spun away as a campaign "donation" - one that is likely both illegal as well as blatantly unethical. "If you're an entity that owns a news outlet that is supposed to provide fair and balanced coverage of the campaign, and yet at the same time are providing aid to one of the candidates in the campaign, that puts them in a severe position of conflict," said Christopher Hanson, who teaches journalism ethics at the U of MD's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. "I don't see any way around that." "It is ludicrous to suggest a connection between Fox 45 news coverage and the support from one of the owners of the corporation that owns Fox 45. There's just no connection there," said Ehrlich campaign spokesman Paul E. Schurick. LOL! 'Course not!

Are Candidates Paying Kickbacks for Bush's Fundraising Appearances?
Campaign Finance Reform

Bush's never-ending campaign tour reaped $4 million from an event for Rep. Bob Riley of Alabama. But, it turns out, Rep. Riley didn't get all that money. Do the people who pay big bucks to attend campaign fundraisers featuring George W. Bush KNOW that the candidate with whom Bush appears doesn't get their money? Are these donors being misled about how their donations will be used? To get Bush to appear with them, do the candidates have to agree to kickbacks for the Republican National Committee, so the money can be used -- for what?

FEC Wants UNLIMITED Party Spending on Presidential Races
Campaign Finance Reform

"Federal election regulators are considering letting political parties for the first time spend unlimited amounts on behalf of their presidential nominees even if the candidates accept taxpayer money and the spending limits that come with it. Under the proposal, the parties could continue to spend limited amounts in concert with the campaigns, but would also have the option of spending as much as they wish if they do it independently. They could make unlimited independent expenditures even if the nominees accept taxpayer money, public funding that comes with spending limits. 'It would basically allow the political parties to supplement any public funding the presidential campaigns took and to basically run shadow campaigns alongside the presidential campaigns,' said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance."

FEC Struggles to Fend Off GOP Challenge of New Campaign Finance Law
Campaign Finance Reform

"The Federal Election Commission is fighting a GOP attempt to question it for a case challenging the new campaign finance law. The commission has asked a federal court in Washington to free it from having to answer the Republican National Committee's questions, which range from the identities of anyone with evidence that political parties are skirting campaign contribution limits to proof that spending by state and local party committees is corrupting federal candidates. The commission contends the RNC's queries are overly broad, try to force the FEC to reveal its strategy to defend the law, and can be addressed in part by reviewing public documents the commission has released. The FEC filed a motion late last week asking the court to step in. Meanwhile, the FEC has joined the Justice Department and lawmakers in asking the court to force the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee to hand over fund-raising documents."

'The Governor's Gusher': An Analysis of GWB's $41 Million Texas War Chest
Campaign Finance Reform

Texans for Public Justice, a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy organization that tracks the role of money in Texas politics, compiled and put online a study analyzing $41 million that Bush raised in his gubernatorial campaigns profiles 100 "profiteers." "Among the findings: 100 Bush 'Profiteers,' who have enjoyed government favors, gave Bush over $3 million; Bush raised $10 million from just 207 donors who gave at least $25,000. Bush raised $16.7 million from donors who contributed amounts of $10,000 or more; Bush's top 80 sources of cash were businessmen, businesses and business PACs that supplied $8 million, or an average of $100,000 apiece; the oil-laden Energy and Natural Resources industry was the leading source of Bush's money, providing $5.6 million. The Financial industry ranked second, contributing $4.8 million; Bush collected $4.1 million from Texas' business tort lobby, rewarded with sweeping limits on its liabilities during Bush's first term as governor."

McCain Calls for Recusal of Republican FEC Commissioners over 'Inappropriate Intervention' in Campaign Finance Debate
Campaign Finance Reform

"As the Federal Election Commission begins the task of writing and implementing a soft-money ban and other sweeping changes contained in the new campaign finance laws, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is calling on two Republican commissioners to recuse themselves from the process. In a letter to FEC Chairman David Mason and Commissioner Bradley Smith, McCain and other key sponsors of his reform legislation [Feingold, Meehan, Shays] - asked Smith and Mason to remove themselves from the agency's 'rulemaking' efforts because of their controversial involvement in the Capitol Hill debate over the measure. 'By your inappropriate and ill-advised intervention into the Congressional debate, and through other actions opposing passage of the Act, you have impaired your ability to credibly fulfill your duties as Federal Election Commissioners to fairly write implementing regulations for this new law," the April 10 letter stated." So writes Amy Keller.

Dems Defeat Repugs' Sneak Attack on Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign Finance Reform

Now that the campaign finance reform bill has been signed into law, Dems in the House are having to thwart Repugnicant opponents' sleazy tricks to weaken it. Republicans pushed a bill they disingenuously called "the Taxpayer Protection and IRS Accountability Act", which would have extended the deadline for online filers, expanded aid to low-income taxpayer clinics, and eased penalties for good-faith taxpayer mistakes. Sounds good, right? WRONG. The bill was nothing more than a sham, a front for the Repugs to tack on a provision to loosen financial disclosure requirements for certain political groups. 25 Repugs broke ranks to help defeat this disgusting trick.

When Money Talks, Democracy Walks
Campaign Finance Reform

"Does money talk? According to U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) it does. He is petitioning the Supreme Court to declare portions of the Campaign Finance Reform Law unconstitutional on the grounds that money spent on the so-called issue ads is merely a form of free speech and, therefore, protected by the First Amendment. Should the majority of the Justices agree with him (and if the 1976, Buckley v. Valeo decision is any indication, they may well do so), all existing pretense that Americans have an equal right to be heard will be exposed as false. McConnell's position, equating money with speech, is fundamentally anti-democratic. Simply put, it would result in those with more access to money having greater access to 'free' speech. In his scenario, the only way all Americans would have an equal voice is if we were all equally endowed with wealth. This is not the case." So writes Janet Alfieri.

Bush Signs Campaign Finance Reform into Law, McConnell Files Suit With Ken Starr as Attorney
Campaign Finance Reform

"Opponents of campaign finance reform wasted no time in filing lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the legislation after President Bush quietly signed the controversial bill into law yesterday. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate's leading opponent of the measure, filed suit against the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Communications Commission in District Court... McConnell's defense team is made up of legal heavyweights such as First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge and ex-Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and prominent campaign finance attorney James Bopp...Across the Capitol, Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) announced yesterday that he and the Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation [funded by Richard Mellon Scaife] would be joining McConnell in his court challenge to the legislation." So reports Amy Keller for Roll Call.

Send a Penny to Kenny's Kids!
Campaign Finance Reform

"It's time to take a moment and do something to help Kenny's Kids, the forgotten victims of Enron... We're talking, of course, about Members of Congress-the once-proud politicians who have lost the steady support of one of their best friends in politics. Rep. Tom DeLay got $28,900 from Ken Lay and his associates. Senator John Breaux got $11,100. Senator Phil Gramm got a whopping $101,350. Recognizing the sacrifice of these and other politicians, who have been forced to do without a steady source of their mother's milk, we at Public Campaign have launched a charitable project to raise public attention to the troubles of 'Kenny's Kids.' So we're calling on the public to appropriately honor their sacrifice, by coming to www.KennysKids.org and sending them a thank-you note for their contribution to the greater good. For every message sent, we will donate one penny towards the cause of comprehensive campaign finance reform." Check it out!

Republicans Abandon Fight Against McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform!
Campaign Finance Reform

"Senate Republicans conceded defeat on Tuesday in their effort to kill legislation to reduce the influence of money in politics and, in a sudden reversal, called for prompt passage of the legislation, likely on Wednesday. Seven years in the making, the bill would ban unlimited contributions to national political parties, sharply reduce donations to state and local parties, and restrict broadcast ads by outside groups shortly before elections. 'It's time to bring this to a conclusion,' declared Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott [R-MS]. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle [D-SD] said he would proceed with a previously scheduled vote on Wednesday to end debate. If he musters the needed 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to prevail, as expected, the Senate would then move to final passage, with a vote tentatively set for mid-afternoon. 'We look forward to wrapping up this bill tomorrow,' said Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-KY] a chief foe of the bill. 'We know it is essentially over.'"

The GOP's Neverending Battle to Preserve the Right of Free Speech - for the Wealthiest
Campaign Finance Reform

So why did the GOP fight so long and hard against campaign reform - a reform 80% of Americans WANT? "It's because they're just worried sick about free speech for wealthy political contributors," quips Joel McNally of Shepherd Express. "Right-wing Republicans used to oppose everything in the Bill of Rights that didn't relate to gun ownership. Suddenly, they're born-again civil libertarians. They'll be flocking to join the American Civil Liberties Union any day now. Actually, it's not exactly free speech they are championing. They want to preserve expensive speech. They want to protect what they claim is the constitutional right of their own wealthy supporters to flood the airwaves with millions of dollars in campaign commercials before an election to sway the outcome." But, thanks to the GOP's stacked Supreme Court and corporate sponsors, the wealthy's right to free speech will be preserved. "It's the poor and the powerless who have trouble making themselves heard."

Mitch McConnell Loses Senate Filibuster Before it Begins
Campaign Finance Reform

Senator Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) hopes for a filibuster to block campaign finance reform have been crushed. Senators Fritz Hollings (D-SC) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) declared their support for McCain-Feingold, bringing the total to 60 - the number needed to defeat a filibuster. That means McConnell will have to fight this battle in Federal court - which will ultimately put the issue before the Felonious Five. Stay tuned...

Democrats Pass Shays-Meehan in Historic Night of Votes - Don't Let Senate Republicans Filibuster!
Campaign Finance Reform

Congratulations to House Democrats, led by tireless Marty Meehan and pain-defying Dick Gephardt, who FINALLY defeated the House Republican Axis of Evil - Tom DeLay, Dick Army, and J.C. Watts. "The 240-to-189 House vote came just after 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, after a debate of nearly 17 hours. It capped a seven-year effort to ban the large, unlimited donations to political parties known as soft money that have grown exponentially in recent years. The Senate passed almost identical legislation last March. Since there are no major differences that need to be worked out between the two chambers, and since Mr. Daschle intends to bring the bill straight to the Senate floor rather than to a conference committee, the prospects for final passage seemed to be very good, although the measure's supporters in the Senate expect they will have to muster the necessary 60 votes to defeat a filibuster." Call your Republican Senators at 202-224-3121 and demand a YES vote for Campaign Finance Reform!

Shays-Meehan Roll Call
Campaign Finance Reform

See how YOUR Representative voted on the final vote for the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill. If your Representative voted to perpetuate Enron's corrupt cash-and-carry politics, find out who is running against that Representative, and start working to defeat him or her in November.

This Week's House Vote on Campaign Finance Reform is CRUCIAL - Call Your Representative!
Campaign Finance Reform

Speaker Dennis "Hastert told his Republican colleagues that if Congress passed a ban on unlimited campaign contributions by corporate groups and others... their party could lose its majority in the House. It was a clarifying moment. With the House facing a crucial vote on campaign finance legislation next week, the airwaves and op-ed pages will be filled with seemingly high-minded arguments against reform. We'll hear that new limits on campaign contributions would violate free speech rights, that they'd prevent political parties from strengthening themselves at the 'grass roots,' that they'd get in the way of mobilizing voters. Hastert has ripped through this decent drapery to reveal that this is really a vote about how power is wielded. It is the first test of whether Congress wants to respond to the corporatization of American politics exemplified by the Enron scandal." So writes Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. Tell your Representative (202-224-3121) to vote for Shays-Meehan.

Hastert Vows Campaign Finance Reform Will Pass Over GOP's Dead Body
Campaign Finance Reform

"House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who generally has stayed aloof from the contentious question of overhauling campaign finance laws, vowed yesterday to fight the measure aggressively, likening next week's showdown vote to Armageddon... An aide said the speaker will personally lobby wavering House Republicans, who typically are loath to defy their leader on a high-profile issue. The Senate has passed a campaign finance bill similar to the one scheduled for a House vote next week. President [sic] Bush campaigned against the measure in 2000, but Republican insiders say he is unlikely to veto it if it reaches his desk -- especially now that the Enron scandal is prompting new criticisms of money and political influence. At yesterday's closed meeting, Hastert declared, 'This is Armageddon,' participants said. He called it 'a life and death issue' for the GOP." That's exactly right -without the massive corruption of corporate money, the GOP would be out of business in a Cheney heartbeat.

Tom 'The Exterminator' DeLay Is Still Poisoning Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign Finance Reform

The NY Times writes, "Campaign finance reform, which sprang back to life last month, is under a new assault by its enemies and a few misguided 'friends.' The House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, and the chief Republican fund-raiser, Tom DeLay, are trying hard to kill the Shays-Meehan soft-money ban now that reformers in the House have signed a petition to force it to the floor... Those who persist in fiddling with Shays-Meehan must be told by their constituents that voters will not tolerate changes that threaten the bill." Call your Representative today (202-224-3121) and demand a clean vote on Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform.

Bush To Nominate Yet Another Fox To Guard The Henhouse
Campaign Finance Reform

"Bush plans to nominate the Republican Party's top attorney to serve on the Federal Election Commission. Michael E. Toner, the Republican National Committee's chief counsel, was the Bush campaign's general counsel and an attorney for former Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign...Campaign-finance watchdogs criticized Bush's appointment of Toner. 'This is another example of appointing people to the Federal Election Commission who represent views of the regulated community rather than the public,' said Fred Wertheimer, head of Democracy 21." Let's see, we now have a perjurer and Scaife operative as Solicitor General (Ted Olson); a former Senator who stated he wanted to abolish the Energy Dept as the head of the Energy Dept. (Spencer Abraham); an oil and mining industry flak as Interior Secretary (Gale Norton); an accomplice to Honduran Death Squads as our UN Ambassador (John Negroponte)...and...and...

Republicans v. America: How Dare They!
Campaign Finance Reform

In the wake of September 11th, special interests have decided that the U.S. Treasury is their personal piggy-bank. And Congressional Republicans are championing their unAmerican cause by voting for unwarranted bailouts, unnecessary tax breaks and outright boondoggles. Why are Republicans caving in to their demands? One big reason is because they need their campaign contributions to keep getting re-elected. Some of the biggest beneficiaries of Congress's largesse are also among the biggest contributors. For example, the pharmaceutical industry has given $53 million to federal candidates and parties since 1990. The airlines have given $65 million and the insurers a whopping $160 million. These outrages can only be stopped if we let our members of Congress know how we feel about them. And in the longer run, we need a stronger democracy to make sure these special favors for special interests stop - by enacting public financing of Congressional campaigns. Take action now!

Congress for Sale: Ending Campaign Finance Corruption
Campaign Finance Reform

Can anyone who reads a newspaper doubt that Senator John McCain is right when he calls our current campaign finance system "corrupt"? The only reason his observation is news is that it is a breathtaking admission of honesty from a Republican, which is rare enough to be newsworthy.

Only 13 Representatives Needed for House Vote on Campaign Finance Reform - Take Action Today!
Campaign Finance Reform

In July, House Republican leaders attempted to kill campaign finance reform through procedural maneuvers. This got campaign finance supporters so angry they decided to FORCE a vote over the objections of the Republican leadership, through an unusual "discharge petition" that requires 218 signatures. Thus far, they have 205 signatures, so they need only 13 more. Click below to see if YOUR Representative has NOT signed the petition. If so, click on the envelope to send them a letter urging them to sign the petition. Do it today!

Campaign Finance Discharge Petition Nears Victory
Campaign Finance Reform

According to the Washington Post, "After only two days of trying, supporters of campaign finance reform yesterday had 190 of the 218 signatures they need to force the House leadership to schedule a no-place-to-hide, straight up-or-down vote on their bill this fall... The signers as of last night included 13 Republicans, an impressive number to join in so defiant a step at so early a stage." Call your Representative (202-224-3121) and tell him or her to sign the Campaign Finance Discharge Petition immediately!

Shays Threatens House Shutdown over Campaign Finance Vote
Campaign Finance Reform

"Backers of a sweeping overhaul in campaign finance laws vowed on Friday to wage an all-out fight for a fair House debate, threatening to block other legislation if Republican leaders do not resurrect their bill... 'It will happen in a nice and congenial way or it could happen after a lot of conflict and disagreement. But it will happen,' Shays told reporters. Shays said he and other Republican backers would be willing to use House procedures to block some other, unrelated bills if House Republican leaders do not reschedule their measure. 'Enough of us could simply say we're not voting for any more rules until you promise us a fair debate on campaign finance reform,' Shays said... With Republicans holding power in the House by a narrow six-vote margin, Shays and six other Republicans could join Democrats to form a working majority and throw the House into gridlock... 'This battle will be fought another day,'' he said." You go, Chris!

NY Times Calls for Discharge Petition on Campaign Finance Bill
Campaign Finance Reform

GOP leaders are trying to blame Democrats for the defeat of campaign finance reform, but no one buys the latest Republican Big Lie. "After hours of bluster and threats, the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, resorted yesterday to the old-fashioned way of trying to kill campaign finance reform. Unable to get his way on the parliamentary ground rules for considering the Shays-Meehan bill, he simply abandoned his promise of a fair vote and yanked it from the floor. There is no telling when, or if, the speaker might allow it to come before the House again. Now the supporters of reform have no choice but to mount a loud protest against Mr. Hastert's thuggish tactics and demand immediate action next week on the bill. If the speaker refuses, lawmakers should sign a petition demanding a vote, just as they did successfully in 1998." So writes the NY Times.

Are House and Senate Colluding in 'Good Cop-Bad Cop' Scheme to Block Key Legislation?
Campaign Finance Reform

This week, in what appeared to be a good cop-bad cop collusion scheme between the House and Senate, the Campaign Finance Reform bill and efforts to block doling out more oil drilling leases in the Gulf were both trashed. In the campaign reform bill, the two arms of Congress went back and forth so often it appeared to be a sophisticated shell game in which it became impossible to assign definitive blame for the original bill's mutilation, then death. In the drilling issue, Congress got to win PR brownie points while knowing, without doubt that the Senate would override them and allow them to have their PR frosting while still eating their corporate cake. The most odious players in this scam are phonies like big oil kiss-ass John Breaux, a rightwing GOPer who calls himself a Democrat in order to hold onto his liberal constituents, while trashing everything they believe in. We say come 2002, it's time for the Blue Dogs (including founder Condit) to take a one-way trip to the pound

House Republicans Kill Campaign Finance Reform - But We're Not Giving Up!
Campaign Finance Reform

In order to defeat the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill, House Republican leaders created a "22-point obstacle course." Shays and Meehan wanted a single up-or-down vote on their plan, and got the support of all but one Democrat - and 19 Republicans. But the Republican leaders refused to change their procedure, so the bill is dead - for now. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was furious at the Republican leaders for sabotaging reform. "This is the last refuge of the scoundrels," he said. He suggested a majority of House members could force a vote through a "discharge petition" - a mechanism that allows a majority of members to force a vote when the House leadership refuses to act. This may take some effort, but the overwhelming majority of Americans are thoroughly disgusted with Republican-supported political corruption - and we have a majority of Congress on our side!

House Will Cast Crucial Vote on Campaign Finance Reform on Thursday - Call Your Representative Today!
Campaign Finance Reform

House Republicans are doing everything possible to kill the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform plan - known in the House as Shays-Meehan. There will be only one day of debate on Thursday, with an immediate vote. Key members of the Congressional Black Caucus have endorsed the bill, so the only forces trying to kill it are Republicans. They say the public does NOT care about this vote. Prove them wrong - make your Representative's phone ring off the hook! Call 202-224-3121 every hour until the vote is taken on Thursday.

House Republicans Plot Death of Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign Finance Reform

According to former Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX), "House Republican leaders are maneuvering to sidetrack the McCain-Feingold campaign-reform bill, scheduled for debate in the House in July... Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Tom DeLay have a new ploy: Let the matter come to a vote, but adopt an amended version to require a House-Senate conference. Ohio Republican Bob Ney is drafting the diversionary language. If at least one amendment can be attached, Hastert may quietly appoint House conferees committed to opposing any conference agreement and stalling the bill to death behind closed doors." You said it, Jim! Hey Jim - why don't you run for Senate next year against Phil Gramm? It's about time he got himself a job in the private sector that he worships so devoutly!

Clean Elections Law Faces Critical Test in Massachusetts: Will Democrats Appropriate the Funds?
Campaign Finance Reform

There's a story brewing in Massachusetts that should be of interest to small-d democrats across the country. It's a test of the Democratic Party's commitment to campaign finance reform and a chance to save an important new model for reducing the role of private money in politics. Massachusetts is one of four states that has voted, since 1996, to adopt the Clean Money/Clean Elections system of campaign financing, where candidates get full public financing in exchange for agreeing to raise no private money and abide by spending limits.

Senate Passes McCain-Feingold Bill
Campaign Finance Reform

"The Senate voted today to approve [59-41] the most wide-ranging overhaul of the nation's campaign finance law since the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, shifting the struggle over the influence of money and politics into a divided House...Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, condemned the [McCain-Feingold] bill last week, and Representative Tom DeLay, the majority whip from Texas, has pledged to 'try anything I can' to kill it."

Senate Compromises By Raising Hard Money Limits
Campaign Finance Reform

"On a 84-16 vote, the chamber agreed to amend the bill to raise so-called 'hard money' contributions to candidates from the current limit of $1,000 per year to a new limit of $2,000. In addition, the chamber raised the annual individual contribution limits from $25,000 to $37,500 overall for candidates and political parties for use in direct campaign expenses." Also, the Senate squelched Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) bill that challenged the McCain-Feingold soft money ban. The White House had collaborated with Hagel on his bill to undermine campaign finance reform. The odds say Bush will veto McCain-Feingold, even though he claims to support soft money bans. Don't be surprised if Bush reverses himself like he did on CO2 limits. He is a "Read My Lips" Bush after all.

Senate Votes Down Two Obstacles To McCain-Feingold
Campaign Finance Reform

The McCain-Feingold bill is still alive and kicking. A challenge to the bill's ban on issue ads was voted down, as well as the "non-severability" amendment that threatened to kill it. "On a 57-43 vote, the Senate rejected a so-called 'non-severability' amendment that would have voided all three major provisions of the bill if the courts ruled any one of them unconstitutional." But the Senate did reach a compromise on hard money limits (see next item).

Bush Loses Two Senate Votes on Campaign Finance
Campaign Finance Reform

Shrub suffered two huge losses in Senate votes on campaign finance reform. By 60-40, the Senate defeated Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) amendment to keep soft money from corporations and unions. By 52-47, the Senate defeated a tripling of hard money limits from $1,000 to $3,000 per wealthy individual. Bush has publicly supported Hagel's efforts to undercut McCain-Feingold, so this represents Bush's first major legislative defeat. Bush is not invincible - when Democrats are united and fight on principle, we can win.

Granny D Urges Calls to Congress
Campaign Finance Reform

"If the senators need some encouragement--if they need to know that Americans indeed care--then let the few of us who can afford the time to be here do more to show we care. Let us walk continuously around our Capitol, day and night, while the Senate struggles to free our democracy from the corrupting clutches of big money. While they are doing their best, we will be doing our best with this walking prayer vigil. Those at home, I hope, will call their senators again and demand the passage of McCain-Feingold in a way that will outlaw soft money (huge contributions given by corporations to parties, who then pass it to candidates) and preserve the existing $1,000 limit on hard money contributions (the money given directly by individuals to candidates)." So writes Granny D.

Senate Votes Down 'Poison Pill' To McCain-Feingold
Campaign Finance Reform

In a blow to Bush and a boost to Senators Feingold (D-WI) and McCain (R-AZ), the Senate overwhelmingly rejected an effort to require unions and corporations to get permission from members or shareholders before using certain funds for politics. Proposed by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), this amendment was considered a poison pill that would have killed the McCain-Feingold bill. The Senators also voted 70-to-30 to require the broadcasting industry to provide discounted television advertising rates for political commercials in choice time slots.

When Warren E. Buffett Speaks, People Should Listen
Campaign Finance Reform

"Long ago, Congress banned corporations and unions from contributing to federal campaigns, and in 1974 it sharply limited what individuals could contribute. But the practices made illegal if done directly have since become acceptable if done clandestinely. The route in is through the back door of soft money and independent committees. Cleverly constructed form has overridden democratically ordained substance." So writes billionaire Warren Buffett, a champion of campaign finance reform.

Demand An End to Corrupt Politics - Send Your Dryer Sheets to Republican Senators!
Campaign Finance Reform

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the leading proponent of corrupt government. For the past 8 years, he has blocked all votes on campaign finance reform. In the first day of Senate debate, McConnell declared that the public was not interested in cleaning up our corrupt political system. "It ranks right up there with static cling," he said. Tell McConnell and his fellow Republicans that you DO care! Take a dryer sheet - new or used - and write "End corrupt politics - support McCain-Feingold!" Then mail it to your Republican Senators (Senator X, Washington DC, 20510). Send one every day highlighting the latest Republican big money sellout.

Feingold and McCain March With Granny D to Party Headquarters
Campaign Finance Reform

Granny D walked with Senators McCain and Feingold this morning as they walked to offices of both the Republican and Democratic parties. The senators spoke in front of the two buildings to say that the time to eliminate soft money had come. At noon, Doris spoke on the Capitol steps to a crowd of reform supporters, including a woman who came from California for the occasion, and a mother of two small children who came (with children in tow) from Pennsylvania because, she said, "this is the most important decision that will be made in my lifetime." Inside, debate began on the bill. Chances for passage of a clean bill seem fairly dim. After her speech, she walked seven times around the Capitol (three and a half miles) with friends. She says she will begin again at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The White House Uses Chuck Hagel to Attack McCain with 'Friendly Fire'
Campaign Finance Reform

"McCain-Feingold is a pretty modest reform in light of the problem. If it doesn't pass, we'll have to throw up our hands on money in politics the way we have on guns in schools. It will be another national disgrace that we just can't do anything about." So says Mary McGrory. We love you dear.

AWOL Dubya Isn't Man Enough to Take On POW McCain
Campaign Finance Reform

"With a few days to go before the Senate takes up campaign finance reform, Bush has begun to intervene to influence the outcome. Yesterday the White House issued a set of absurdly weak 'principles' to govern changes in the fund-raising laws that would do virtually nothing to stem the flow of money. The White House is also reportedly supporting Senator Chuck Hagel's efforts to push his own deficient bill as an alternative to the McCain- Feingold soft-money ban. With these steps, Mr. Bush would preserve the unbridled fund-raising that has corrupted American politics." So writes the New York Times.

Granny D Will Walk Around the Capitol
Campaign Finance Reform

91 year-old "Granny D" (Doris Haddock) walked across the U.S. last year to dramatize the need for campaign finance reform. As the Senate begins a tumultuous debate, Granny D will be pounding the pavement around the Capitol building. "If you take the $463 million dollars in soft money that was spent in the 2000 election, and if each step of my walk represents $1,000 of that money, I will have to walk 257 miles around the Capitol," she said. If you are in the DC area, please come walk with her. She will walk from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day except Sundays.

It's Public Funding, John Dean!
Campaign Finance Reform

"The distinction between illegal bribery and legal campaign contribution, as some would have it, is as fine as the hair on a frog's back. Accordingly, there are 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 100 members of the U.S. Senate whose conduct, where campaign contributions are concerned, is probably legally indistinguishable from that of Clinton when he was president." So writes Watergate figure John Dean, arguing against an investigation of Clinton over pardons. But the conclusion that should really be drawn is that it's time to end the campaign finance system of legal bribery and replace it with FULL PUBLIC FUNDING for federal campaigns.