12 Jul 2001 July 12, 2001
* Campaign Finance Regulation Faces Tough Fight in House
* Supporters of Increased Campaign Regulation Exposed
* Congressman Admits Guilt, But Doesn’t Seem to Have Learned His Lesson
* Paycheck Protection Bill Passes in Florida House
* Black Congressman Against Campaign Reform
Campaign Finance Regulation Faces Tough Fight in House
As the House of Representatives debates new campaign finance regulation on July 12, many former supporters are starting to get cold feet. While similar legislation passed in previous sessions, the reality of what proposed regulations could do is making some members think twice about renewing their past support.
House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney says, "The vote’s too close to call." Strict regulation sponsored by Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold passed in the Senate in April, and President George W. Bush has not definitively said he would veto legislation sent to the White House.
Legislation sponsored by Representatives Chris Shays and Marty Meehan most closely resembles the McCain-Feingold version. Key Shays-Meehan provisions include the elimination of "soft money" donations (that cannot support candidates but can be used for party-building activities) to the national political parties, restricts "issue advertising" close to elections and requires third-party organizations to disclose their donors and spending.
Competing legislation sponsored by Ney and Representative Albert Wynn limits soft money contributions only to national political parties to $75,000 and restricting that money from being used for issue ads and requires third-party groups to disclose spending (but not donors).
This time around, many members of the Congressional Balck Caucus (CBC) oppose new campaign finance regulation. Representative Wynn, the CBC’s point man on the issue, is co-sponsor of the alternative of the Shays-Meehan proposal (see Wynn’s quote at right). Organized labor is also opposing these newest proposals for increased regulation.
As opposed to the Senate’s 11 days of debate, the House allocated only one day. Shays told the Washington Post, "I think everybody will have their say. It’s not like we haven’t debated this before."
Supporters of Increased Campaign Regulation Exposed
A new report finds that "the campaign finance reform network is a massive national network of liberal organizations, projects and activities that is extremely well funded."
"Who’s Buying Campaign Finance Reform?" was published by the American Conservative Union (ACU). ACU Chairman David A. Keene writes, "The on-going efforts for ‘campaign finance reform’ are and have been for 25 years, well organized, well financed and intentionally aimed at rewriting the campaign rules to benefit ultra-liberal causes." The report states the people behind efforts to increase regulations have spent over $73 million since 1996, and comprise "a core group of liberal foundations who also finance other ultra-liberal organizations and causes." One particular donor of note, investment banker Jerome Kohlberg, donated $100,000 to an organization called Campaign for America. Campaign for America then used this $100,000 donation to fund political ads that said, "Let’s get the $100,000 checks out of politics."
This report can be downloaded on the Internet at http://www.conservative.org/financereform/report.htm.
Campaign Finance Factoids
Congressman Admits Guilt, But Doesn’t Seem to Have Learned His Lesson
Here’s a story for those who oppose increased campaign finance regulation simply because the current rules are not being enforced. Representative Earl F. Hilliard acknowledged to the House Ethics Committee that he lent campaign funds to two employees and used campaign donations to pay for a private firm’s rent and utilities and for three people to work for both the firm and his campaign. The Committee cited his "willingness… to admit to the misconduct" in its decision not to severely punish Hilliard for these actions. Afterward, however, Hilliard told the Washington Post, "I feel I have not broken any law, but I will not even argue with their decision."
Paycheck Protection Bill Passes in Florida House
Legislators in Florida’s House of Representatives passed the "Teacher Paycheck Protection Act" on April 30. The bill removed the state mandate that school districts collect teacher union dues, and prohibits school districts from collecting future union dues money that would be associated with political activity, lobbying or other ideological purposes.
Black Congressman Against Campaign Reform
Words of wisdom from Representative Albert Wynn, the head of the campaign finance task force of the Congressional Black Caucus: "Restrictions on third-party political expressions via broadcast ads during the most critical late stages of a campaign is not only unconstitutional, they deprive voters of vital information at a time when voters are most engaged in election of candidates and consideration of referendums."