Tags: What | @Campaign | Finance | Reform" | Not

What @Campaign Finance Reform" Is Not

Wednesday, 13 February 2002 12:00 AM

All are used interchangeably by the media and other self-professed do-gooders as shorthand for creating the impression that such legislation will "take the money out of politics” and "eliminate corporate influence.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once again, the Left is more interested in touting a concept - ostensibly noble – that in reality bears little relation to its name or supposed benefits.

So, despite the multimillion dollar on-going effort on the part of the media to advocate the passage of a bill such as Shays-Meehan today in the House, there are many things this proposal does

For example, every single dollar in contributions from Enron or Global Crossing to members of the House or Senate would still be legal.

How can that be?

Simple. Shays-Meehan doesn’t address it. Rather hypocritical of the harrumphing desk-pounders on Capitol Hill, wouldn’t you say?

In today’s New York Times’ lead editorial, "Congress in Search of Its Soul,” the ivory tower denizens at the "old gray lady” invoke Enron and even the "Clinton scandals” as justification for passage of the bill.

For one thing, Enron money didn't seem to influence the Bush administration at all, so why the clarion call for Shays-Meehan due to Enron? It would seem that officials with character will do the right thing, but you can't legislate that.

And the Clinton scandals?

Assuming the Times is referring to the campaign finance laws broken with abandon by Clinton for more than eight years, here again nothing in Shays-Meehan would additionally cover the already-illegal acts of the prior president’s abuses.

And Shays-Meehan will still allow the illegal confiscation of employees’ wages for political purposes against their will by unions, as required by the Supreme Court’s Beck decision, as there is no paycheck protection provision as called for by the president.

If "PACs” – political action committees – are your concern, Shays-Meehan does nothing to change the 1974 law that established them as part of the most heralded campaign finance reform of the last century.

What about the ability of individual citizens to contribute to candidates of their choice? Shays-Meehan does little to enhance the ability of people to have more influence in the process as it neglected to raise contribution limits set in 1974 enough to even account for inflation.

How does that give people a bigger say in the process?

Overall, it doesn’t.

What about full, instant disclosure?

Well, Shays-Meehan also doesn’t change the reporting requirements of candidates and committees, also championed and practiced by the president in his campaign for the White House in 2000. The Bush campaign, but not Al Gore’s, published the names and donations of every contributor on the Internet within twenty-four hours of receiving the contribution.

But Shays-Meehan would infringe on the rights of people and groups to pay for their own statements mentioning a candidate’s name sixty days before a general election and thirty days before a primary.

That is a direct violation of the First Amendment free speech guarantee, and will undoubtedly be struck down by the courts.

Finally, Shays-Meehan also does not eliminate so-called "soft money” from the process.

The powerful media will have even more influence than it has today, average citizens will have less, and incumbent office holders will have a greater stranglehold on the system.

That is what Shays-Meehan does; a far cry from what it is purported to do.

Dan Frisa represented New York in the United States Congress and served four terms in the New York State Assembly. E-mail Dan:

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All are used interchangeably by the media and other self-professed do-gooders as shorthand for creating the impression that such legislation will take the money out of politics" and eliminate corporate influence." Nothing could be further from the truth. Once again, the...
Wednesday, 13 February 2002 12:00 AM
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