Feb. 3, 2004
Kerry Ranks Near Bottom in Senate on Money From PACs and Lobbyists
Statement from Nick Nyhart, Executive Director of Public Campaign Action Fund; Chellie Pingree, President of Common Cause; and Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen
According to a Jan. 31 Washington Post story, presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is beholden to the very special interests he says he will dismiss from the White House if elected. The Post based its erroneous conclusion on an analysis of the money Kerry has raised from lobbyists while he was a senator.
But the Post paints an inaccurate picture using an arbitrary statistic. A more accurate indicator of whether a candidate has ties to special interests is whether that candidate receives political action committee (PAC) as well as lobbyist money, and if so, how much. An analysis of PAC and lobbying contributions combined shows Kerry is near the bottom in receiving such funds when PAC money is averaged from 1993 through the present and lobbyist money is averaged from 1990 through present. Further, the lobbyist money that Kerry has taken in the presidential campaign is less than 1 percent of his total money raised.
Not only has Kerry historically refused to take PAC money, but his record shows that he been a leader for more than a decade in full reform of campaign financing, advocating for clean public money not only for presidential but also congressional campaigns.
Kerry was the lead sponsor with the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) on a measure that would have authorized clean money in all federal congressional elections and was a leader in pressing for congressional public financing in the 1992 and 1993 campaign finance reform bills. Although those bills passed, they were not enacted.
Other Democratic presidential candidates such as former Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Edwards also have endorsed campaign finance reform. Dean has endorsed public financing and reform of the presidential public funding system. Edwards played a leadership role in the effort to pass the McCain-Feingold bill and has endorsed reform of the presidential public funding system. President Bush has not endorsed either.