News Release

McCain-Feingold: Reform Gone Bad?


Several provisions added to the McCain-Feingold bill have prompted some long-time proponents of campaign finance reform to oppose this legislation. Among those available for interviews are:

Campaign finance reform advocate at U.S. Public Interest Research Group and author of the recent paper “The Consequences of Raising Federal Contribution Limits,” Hutchins said today: “The McCain-Feingold bill now doubles the amount wealthy donors can give directly to politicians [hard money], doubles the state party contribution limits, raises the national party limits from $20,000 to $25,000, and increases the aggregate amount an individual can give per election cycle from $50,000 to $75,000. These increases could bring in as much as $390 million in new individual hard money contributions. The bill would also dramatically increase contribution limits for candidates running against wealthy challengers. In addition, much of the $500 million in soft money that would be banned by the bill could easily be transferred into party or candidate hard money. The amended McCain-Feingold bill makes a mockery of our campaign finance system and of the people of the United States who have asked for true reform.”
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Director of the National Voting Rights Institute, Bonifaz said today: “The American people are being duped into thinking this is reform, but it’s not. McCain-Feingold may as well be called McConnell-Lott now. Increasing hard money limits is equivalent to increasing the poll tax. Seventy-five percent of the money in the system is hard money. Only one-eighth of 1 percent of Americans give contributions of $1,000 or more, so the consequence of raising that limit to $2,000 is to give more voice to the wealthy. We should be decreasing the amount of money allowed in this system — not increasing it. We need to be abolitionists — and that means full public funding, like Maine and Arizona have done. We can get there incrementally, like first banning soft money, but not at the cost of increasing the amount of hard money.”
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Law professor at the University of California at Davis, Overton specializes in legislation, voting rights and property rights. He is author of the law review article “Mistaken Identity: Unveiling the Property Characteristics of Political Money.” Overton said today: “People who are not wealthy are less likely to be able to participate in politics today because of how it is financed, and this perpetuates inequality because future lawmaking will steer resources and opportunities away from them and their descendants and towards others…. Disparities in wealth are shaped, in part, by illegitimate factors such as past discrimination, often enforced by the state. The existing political money system perpetuates the effects of past discriminatory laws. The choice to allow higher hard money contributions will only increase racial disparities in political contributions. White households have eight times the net worth of blacks and twelve times the net worth of Latinos. These disparities are reflected in the political contribution context. In a survey of individual hard money contributors sponsored by the Joyce Foundation, 95 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, less than 1 percent identified themselves as people of color.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020