Leading Foe of Federal Campaign Finance Reform Reveals His True Motives

April 15, 1999

Leading Foe of Federal Campaign Finance Reform Reveals His True Motives

“Take away ?soft money? and we wouldn?t be in the majority in the House and the majority in the Senate and couldn?t win back the White House.”

For nearly two years, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Chairman of the Senate Republican fundraising committee, has been leading Senate filibusters against the McCain-Feingold federal campaign finance reform bill. This legislation (S.26), which is supported by a majority of 52 Senators, bans unlimited “soft money” contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to political parties. It also prevents corporations and unions from sponsoring phony TV and radio “issue ads” that are really campaign ads.

McConnell has continually defended his anti-democratic stance as essential to stopping the government from interfering with the constitutionally-guaranteed right of freedom of speech. No matter that the preponderance of legal opinion is that it is perfectly constitutional to prevent corporations and unions from using their treasuries to support political parties in federal elections or fund broadcasts benefitting federal candidates shortly before elections.

But now, according to the April 11th Washington Post, McConnell has all but dropped his pretense of high-minded devotion to the Constitution. “Take away ?soft money? and we wouldn?t be in the majority in the House and the majority in the Senate and couldn?t win back the White House,” McConnell reportedly told Republican state party chairmen on April 10.

In other words, to achieve a narrow partisan advantage — Republicans out-raised Democrats in national party soft money 53% to 47% in 1996 and 57% to 43% in 1998 — McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders are perpetuating a system that puts both parties in hock to wealthy corporations, unions and individuals and subverts existing federal campaign laws.

“A more outrageous blend of hypocrisy and corruption in American politics would be hard to recall,” said Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen.