Feb. 14, 2002
House Vote Heralds New Era; Bush Should Approve
Campaign Finance Reform Measure
Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook
Today?s House vote to overhaul the campaign finance system is a hard-fought victory for those who have worked so many years to rid Washington of extortion politics. For years, special interests have thrown millions of “soft money” dollars at politicians, who in turn were expected to represent their wealthy supporters when carrying out congressional duties.
We have watched as lobbyists for mega-corporations and powerful industries gained progressively more power, and average citizens got shut out. We watched as top brass from major companies like Enron met privately with White House officials to craft national policy, while public interest groups were ignored.
Finally, it seems that enough lawmakers have become as disgusted with the shakedowns as the rest of us. We are truly heartened that soft money may soon be eliminated from federal politics.
For more than a decade, Public Citizen has pulled out the stops to enact reform legislation. We worked at the grassroots level, mobilizing voters. We gathered tens of thousands of petitions, signed by people in every state and forwarded them to lawmakers. We have issued a slew of reports documenting the insidious effects of soft money and showing time and again how favors and policies were purchased. We have consistently given comprehensive information and thoughtful analyses to policymakers about reform proposals and their potential effects.
We knew how close this latest vote would be, so in recent months we targeted districts to organize local reform supporters and build momentum. We organized press conferences and events with local groups in key districts and launched a fax campaign on our Web site, which generated thousands of faxes to lawmakers. In Washington, we worked with other national reform organizations to develop strategies to mobilize local affiliates.
While it is regrettable that the hard money limit for House members doubles to $2,000 under this measure, the passage of this measure is a milestone. We urge the Senate to approve it expeditiously and send it to the president, and we encourage President Bush to sign it immediately.