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March E-Legislative Action Alert

Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 (S. 27)

Large, unregulated "soft money" dnoations from corporations, unions and individuals would be outlawed by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2001 (McCain-Feingold Legislation) [To view this bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:s.00027: ] The proposed legislation would also include other provisions to regulate the influence of money in politics.

According to Senator John McCain and other proponents of campaign finance reform, excessive spending on campaigns by candidates has caused public cynicism about and mistrust of the United States government. In fact, the reformers claim that Congress should move immediately to pass new campaign finance laws because of the public's outcry over this issue. However, according to statistics on public opinion, the cynicism about politics was the result of events occurring in American history that the government was responsible for, not the issue of campaign contributions to candidates. During a period that included the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the economic mistakes of the Carter Administration (1964-1980), public trust declined steadily. (See Money and Politics; People's Chief Concerns: http://www.publicagenda.org/issues/pcc_detail.cfm?issue_type=campaign finance&list=16)

On March 15, 2001, President Bush presented his ideas for campaign finance reform legislation. His three main goals included a ban on soft-money donations by corporations and labor unions, protection of the rights of individuals and groups to express their views, and prohibiting of unions or corporations from using stockholder or member funds for political activities without their permission. And, unless the McCain-Feingold bill includes "paycheck protection" for union members and other provisions that many Democrats consider to be unpalatable, Senator McCain's measure will not be signed by the President, even if it makes it through Congress.

If it becomes law, the McCain-Feingold bill poses fundamental free-speech questions and faces inevitable court challenges. The Supreme Court will probably have to resolve the restrictions imposed by the measure. Lawrence Noble, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission who is executive director of the pro-reform Center for Responsive Politics said, "Everyone recognizes that there are constitutional issues in McCain-Feingold, and everyone assumes it will end up at the Supreme Court if it passes and is signed." (Charles Lane, "Court Challenge Likely if McCain-Feingold Bill Passes. Foes Cite Free-Speech Issues as Debate on Campaign Finance Reform Begins," The Washington Post, March 19, 2001)

If Senator McCain and his supporters were serious about campaign finance reform, they would consider repealing the limits on individual and political action committees (PACs) contributions to candidates and parties as well as party contributions to candidates, thus leveling the playing field between incumbents and challengers. The overtly complex regulatory process would be simplified, and intrusive FEC investigations that last for years would be lessened. The transparency and political FEC accountability of the electoral process would be improved, and most importantly, would not infringe on the freedom of speech afforded to by the First Amendment.

For more information on campaign finance reform, go to http://americanvoiceinstitute.org/CampaignFinanceReform.htm

What Can You Do?

Send a message to your national senators expressing your opposition to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 (S. 27).

Contact Information:

Call your senators and urge them to oppose the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 (S. 27).

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senators' offices.)

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm

Addressing Correspondence:

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator (last name):

To view a sample letter to a senator, go to http://www.americanvoiceinstitute.org/CampaignFinanceLetter.htm

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