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Friday, February 13, 2004

Congressmen Move to Weaken An Already Weak Reform Law
Twelve members of Congress have introduced legislation aimed at repealing one of the good provisions of the McCain-Feingold law. That law was passed by Congress in 2001 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003. These members of Congress now claim that it is unconstitutional, which has become simply another way of saying that you don't like something.

The bill number is H.R. 3801. Can can read the entire bill by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and entering in the bill number. The bill's summary reads as follows:

"To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to repeal the requirement that persons making disbursements for electioneering communications file reports on such disbursements with the Federal Election Commission and the prohibition against the making of disbursements for electioneering communications by corporations and labor organizations, and for other purposes. "

This would remove the requirement in current law that if you want to run an ad on TV or radio attacking a federal candidate by name, you can't use money from corporate or labor union treasuries. There are already many ways around this minimal restriction. Corporations and labor unions can still have their shareholders, executives, and members pool their individual funds into a political action committee, which can then run ads attacking candidates. Or, the corporations can send out direct mailings attacking candidates. Or, they can sponsor nefarious phone calls, asking voters things like "would you vote for Senator Joe Bloe if you knew that he smoked marijuana, dodged the draft, and beat his wife?" even if none of those things are true. The FEC is currently considering closing some of these loopholes, which would actually give the law some teeth.

But, I guess the simple fact that some politicians think that even the very minimal rules that now exist dealing with money and politics are too tough for them to live by must be yet another indication that campaign finance reform actually can work. Imagine what would happen if Congress ever passed a real reform bill.

The twelve members of Congress who apparently would like corporations to spend their shareholder's money on politics without their consent are: Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland, Mr. FLAKE, Mr. CRANE, Mr. OTTER, Mr. DOOLITTLE, Mr. MANZULLO, Mr. PAUL, Mrs. MUSGRAVE, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas, Mr. AKIN, Mrs. CUBIN, and Mr. PENCE.

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