April 21, 1998
Citizen Groups Press for Signatures on Campaign Finance Reform Discharge Petition
Public Citizen today delivered letters from 50 state and local citizens’ groups to “swing” Republican and Democratic members of the House, urging them to sign the discharge petition for a fair vote on campaign finance reform.
“Ordinary Americans are angry about the way our corrupt political process damages their welfare. They know that special interest money buys influence over issues from tobacco to pollution to programs for children and the elderly. These letters show real change is supported by a wide variety of consumer, environmental and other organizations, not just the longtime political reform groups,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.
The discharge petition has the signatures of 201 Representatives and needs only 17 more to overturn the House leadership’s refusal to allow a meaningful debate and vote on campaign finance reform bills. A number of Democrats who have not yet signed the petition have reportedly given assurances to their leaders that they will sign if their votes are critical.
The leading reform initiative is the bipartisan Shays-Meehan bill. It would ban “soft money” — unlimited campaign contributions by special interests to political parties for federal elections. It would also bring phony “issue ads” that are really designed to elect or defeat candidates under existing legal limitations on campaign spending.
“We are just a short way from taking the first critical steps to reform this system of legalized bribery. We are determined to help citizens’ groups bring this issue home to their representatives in the coming days and months,” said Claybrook.
The letters delivered today are from consumer, environmental, social justice, peace and other groups in eight key states, including many organizations not previously active in campaign finance reform. Signers include: National Audubon Society of New York State, Sierra Club-Lone Star Chapter, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Pennsylvania, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Citizens for Safe Energy, Arizona Consumers Council, Texans for Public Justice, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York Statewide Senior Action, and Pennsylvania Council of Churches.
The letters are from New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Montana, Arizona and Tennessee.