en IN NEW ALLIANCE, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION AND PUBLIC CAMPAIGN URGE SUPPORT FOR FULL PUBLIC FINANCING WASHINGTON--Seeking to end years of political deadlock, the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Campaign today announced a &quot;common ground&quot; effort to shift the focus of campaign finance reform to full public financing for all federal elections. <br /><br />The groups announced their new alliance in an op-ed advertisement in the national section of The Washington Post. The advertisement will appear tomorrow in The Washington Times and on Thursday in The New York Times, and in five other national legal and political publications over the next two weeks. <br /><br />&quot;The perception has been the ACLU and Public Campaign are diametrically opposed to each other,&quot; said Ellen S. Miller, executive director of Public Campaign. &quot;However, we have discovered a common ground and we are delighted to embrace that common ground with the ACLU and work towards the same goal -- a system of full public financing of campaigns.&quot; <br /><br />Miller said the groups waited to act until the current campaign finance reform debate concluded -- in a predictable dead-end -- before coming forward with their new approach. <br /><br />A system of full public financing, the ad&#39;s headline declares, is &quot;the kind of campaign finance reform Congress wouldn&#39;t talk about -- but should.&quot; <br /><br />&quot;Here we are again,&quot; the copy reads, &quot;having just watched Congress go through its ritual dance, pretending to make a serious effort at campaign finance reform. Once again, the dance has ended in the way it always does: the music stops and nothing happens.&quot; <br /><br />Full public financing, the advertisement said, &quot;would make public officials more accountable to voters in general and less accountable to the often narrow economic interests of a few big contributors. And it would allow public officials to do their job instead of spending huge amounts of time raising money.&quot; <br /><br />This &quot;third road to reform&quot; approach is the result of a series of conversations between Miller and ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser that took place over a period of months, in which they sought to find common ground in their efforts to promote effective and constitutional campaign finance reform. <br /><br />&quot;In a society where money is so unequally distributed, there is no practical or constitutional way to reconfigure the current system of privately financed campaigns that will result in an equitable and democratic system,&quot; Glasser said. <br /><br />&quot;Our goal is to put the issue of full public financing squarely before the American people, so that the next debate can achieve something more than an expenditure of hot air,&quot; he said. <br /><br />The advertisement will be appearing in other publications as follows: Oct. 27- The Washington Times; Oct. 28 - The New York Times and Roll Call; Oct. 30 - National Journal; Nov. 8 - The Weekly Standard; Nov. 15 - The New Republic and The Nation. <br /><br />&quot;What we hope to achieve together is a re-focusing of the national debate about campaign finance reform,&quot; said Miller. <br /><br />To that end, the ACLU and Public Campaign will seek joint editorial board meetings and joint meetings with legislators and others involved in the reform effort. &quot;Beyond that, of course, we want to achieve effective and constitutional reform,&quot; Miller added. <br /><br />The ACLU is a nationwide, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the Bill of Rights for all individuals through litigation, legislation and public education. The ACLU can be found online at and through America Online at keyword: ACLU. <br /><br />Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working on behalf of comprehensive campaign finance reform. <br /><br /> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 26 Oct 1999 14:00:00 +0000 Rick Bielke 1500 at WHOEVER WINS, THEY WIN <p><strong><span class="bodytitlesub"> Double-Giving in the Presidential Campaign</span></strong></p><p class="bodytext"> Washington-A new analysis released by Public Campaign today of double-giving in the presidential campaigns shows that forty-seven companies and organizations that appear on the donor list of three or more presidential candidates gave at least $50,000 overall. Forty-five of these companies are playing the entire field, showing up on all four of the front-runners’ donor lists. </p> <p class="bodytext">&quot;No matter which presidential candidates win next Tuesday’s primaries, an elite group of major political contributors will come out the winners,&quot; said Ellen Miller, executive director of Public Campaign. &quot;They’re the double-givers, who have hedged their bets by currying favor with all the leading candidates,&quot; she added.</p> <p class="bodytext">&quot;Our analysis shows that double-giving-which is solely about buying access and influence, not supporting any particular candidate or philosophy-is at the heart of presidential campaign financing,&quot; Miller noted. &quot;It is especially a top priority for many of this country’s most powerful financial, communications, and law firms.&quot;</p> <p class="bodytext">Financial companies in particular are in the forefront of double-giving. Every company on the top ten list of double-givers is in the finance business, with the exception of the entertainment giant Time Warner. Goldman, Sachs and Morgan, Stanley Dean Witter show up on the top twenty contributor lists of all four candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So does banking and insurance giant Citigroup. The accounting firm Ernst &amp; Young made the top twenty donor list for three out of four of the leading candidates, as did Time Warner. </p> <p class="bodytext">&quot;All of these companies have a long lobbying ‘to-do’ list, including efforts to shift Social Security funds into the stock market, protect elaborate tax shelter schemes, normalize trade with China, gain approval for complex merger deals, and influence federal regulation of the commodities and derivatives markets,&quot; Miller observed. &quot;With so much at stake, these companies have obviously concluded that it will pay to have a friend in the White House-and their double-, triple- and quadruple-giving guarantees that they will.&quot;</p> <p class="bodytext">These contributions do not flow from the companies themselves, but rather from executives and their families. &quot;Double-giving to the presidential candidates has solely been in the form of hard money, though of course most of the companies involved are also generous soft-money donors too, often to both parties,&quot; Miller added. &quot;What this shows, once again, is that soft money-the most visible and outrageous form of campaign finance corruption-is not the core of the problem.&quot;</p> <p class="bodytext">Miller concluded, &quot;The only way to end this cynical purchase of political influence is to create an alternative way for candidates to finance their campaigns-‘clean money’ full public financing for candidates who agree to raise no private money whatsoever.&quot;</p> <p class="bodytext"><a href="">Public Campaign’s new report, &quot;Whoever Wins, They Win,&quot; </a>analyzes all the large individual contributions ($200 and up) to the presidential campaigns of Bill Bradley, George W. Bush, Al Gore and John McCain through the end of 1999. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 03 Mar 2000 13:12:56 +0000 1416 at Paying - and Polluting - More at the Gas Pump <div align="center"><span class="bodytitlesub"><strong>New Study Shows How Campaign Contributions Stall Fuel Efficiency Standards Read the Report</strong></span> </div><span class="bodytitlesub"> </span><!-- InstanceEndEditable --> <!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="PRText" --> <div align="left"> <p class="bodytext">Washington, DC...An analysis released by Public Campaign today shows that senators who voted last fall to stall new fuel efficiency standards for light trucks - a category which includes popular SUVs and minivans - received more than twice the campaign contributions, on average, from the auto lobby as senators who did not.</p><p class="bodytext">With gasoline prices soaring, consumers are paying more than ever to fill up the tanks of their SUVs, which get notoriously poor gas mileage. Low gas mileage also means more pollution. Raising fuel economy standards for light trucks would slash U.S. global warming pollution by over 240 million tons annually, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Reducing global warming by raising fuel economy standards is a major theme of Earth Day 2000.</p> <p class="bodytext">Since 1995, however, at the urging of the auto lobby, Congress has prohibited the U.S. Department of Transportation from even studying the idea of requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks.</p> <p class="bodytext">Public Campaign analyzed Federal Election Commission data coded by industry by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and found a clear correlation between campaign contributions from the auto lobby and Congress’ actions.</p> <p class="bodytext">On September 15, 1999, 55 senators voted &quot;no&quot; on an amendment that recommended the government study the possibility of raising fuel efficiency standards. These senators received an average of $41,630 apiece in PAC and large individual ($200+) contributions over six years from auto manufacturers, dealers, and unions. That’s more than twice the average amount-$19,090-received from the auto lobby by the 40 senators who voted &quot;yes&quot; on the amendment. </p> <p class="bodytext">In the House of Representatives, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), who in 1995 introduced the first rider prohibiting the Transportation Department from raising fuel economy standards, ranked third in the House of Representatives for contributions from the auto lobby, taking $66,600 in PAC and large individual contributions ($200+) since 1997. The top two House recipients of auto lobby campaign cash, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), with $79,760, and Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), $72,915, are cosponsors of legislation that would freeze new fuel efficiency standards permanently.</p> <p class="bodytext">Overall, Public Campaign’s analysis found that, since 1997, auto manufacturers, dealers, and auto unions have given nearly $15 million to federal campaigns, 64 percent to Republicans. This total includes PAC contributions, large individual contributions of $200 or more, and soft money.</p> <p class="bodytext">The full text of Paying - and Polluting - More at the Gas Pump, which includes charts showing the top Senate and House recipients of auto lobby campaign cash along with where they stand on legislation that would freeze fuel efficiency standards and the <a href="">September 15, 1999 Senate vote is available here. </a></p> </div><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 19 Apr 2000 04:00:00 +0000 1415 at MOTHERS, MONEY, AND POLITICS <!-- InstanceEndEditable --> <!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="PRText" --> <div align="left"><div align="center"><strong><span class="bodytitlesub"> How Campaign Money Affects Issues Mothers Care About </span></strong><br /><strong><span class="bodytitlesub"> Read the Report</span></strong><br /> </div><p class="bodytext">Washington, DC...As Mothers Day - and the Million Mom March - approaches, Public Campaign is issuing a report on how campaign money frustrates mothers’ concerns every day in Washington on a long list of issues.</p> <p class="bodytext">&quot;From gun violence, to drunk driving standards, to children’s exposure to pesticides, to collecting child support, generous campaign givers often oppose what is in the interest of mothers and their families,&quot; said Ellen Miller, Public Campaign’s president. <a href="">&quot;Mothers, Money, and Politics </a>shows how money flows to the Members of Congress who support these campaign contributors’ agendas,&quot; she added.</p> <p class="bodytext">The report also explores the systemic problems that lead to poor treatment of women’s concerns in politics. Women make up 51 percent of the population, yet only 12 percent of the Members of Congress are women. &quot;Because incumbents have a fund-raising advantage over challengers, it is difficult for women to get a foothold in Congress,&quot; noted Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign’s executive director.</p> <p class="bodytext"><strong>Highlights from the report include:</strong></p> <p class="bodytext">Since 1997, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies have made political expenditures outweighing those of gun control groups by a ratio of almost twenty-three to one. Last year, in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, Congress voted down proposals to require background checks for sales at gun shows-where three out of four of the weapons used at Columbine were bought. (See vote correlation below.) </p> <p class="bodytext">The tobacco industry has contributed at least $2.1 million so far toward the 2000 elections. A series of bills that would strengthen regulations against selling tobacco to minors are now stalled in congressional committees. </p> <p class="bodytext">In 1998, the alcohol lobby defeated legislation, proposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-that would have required states to adopt stricter drunk-driving standards - or lose their highway and transit funding. During the 1998 elections, the alcohol industry gave $7.9 million to federal candidates and parties-MADD gave nothing. </p> <p class="bodytext">Women are the fastest growing group in the U.S. in filing bankruptcy. The House and Senate have both passed bankruptcy reform bills that make it more difficult for women to collect child support. The senators who voted against an amendment that would have strengthened protections for child support in the legislation received $34,520 more, on average, from the banking and credit industry over six years than the senators who voted for stronger protection for children. </p> <p class="bodytext">Children are more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides than adults are. Bills that would require schools to adopt safer pest control methods are stalled in the agriculture committees, where the members receive far more contributions, on average, from the pesticide industry, than their colleagues. In the Senate, Agriculture Committee members received nearly six times the average received by other senators over six years. In the House, since 1997, committee members received, on average, 11 times more than other House members did.</p> </div><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 05 May 2000 04:00:00 +0000 1430 at STATEMENT OF NICK NYHART, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PUBLIC CAMPAIGN Today Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign, gave the following statement at a press conference featuring victims of Ford-Firestone rollover collisions and their families. Public Campaign also released a report, THE MONEY TRAIL: AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS, which shows how automotive industry campaign money has flowed to the very Members of Congress charged with oversight of the federal auto safety agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report includes breakout charts of Ford Motor Company and Firestone campaign contributions to members of the House and Senate.<a href=""> Read the report </a>at ( or call 202/293-0222 to obtain a copy. <br /> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- <p>National Press Club<br /> October 2, 2000 <br /> Good morning. My name is Nick Nyhart, and I am executive director of Public Campaign. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan group based here in Washington, working for comprehensive campaign reform. </p> <p>In a few minutes you will hear the stories of people who have suffered terribly in auto accidents involving Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires. The tragedies they have suffered seem even worse when we realize that, perhaps, with stronger auto safety rules and enforcement, they could have been prevented. </p> <p>Auto safety advocates tell us that the federal agency charged with overseeing auto safety in this country, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, known as NHTSA, has been dangerously weakened. Congress has slashed the agency’s budget, so that it is more than one-third smaller than it was 20 years ago. Congress has not given the agency the authority to compel companies to hand over unflattering safety information - such as the deaths and injuries recently suffered by Ford Explorer drivers using Firestone tires. Ditto on criminal penalties and other enforcement tools. </p> <p>Unfortunately, when we take a close look at campaign contributions from the auto industry, we get a good idea of why the picture looks this way. </p> <p>Since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, auto executives, their families, and Political Action Committees (PACs) have given more than $55 million to federal candidates and parties. That includes both soft and hard money. </p> <p>Much of this money has flowed to the very committees that have oversight of NHTSA. Members of the Senate Commerce Committee have collected $1.2 million from the auto industry since 1995. Members with seats on the Senate Appropriations Committee collected nearly $950,000 over the same time period. A similar pattern holds in the House, where members of the Transportation Committee have taken more than $445,000 so far for the 2000 elections. Members of the House Appropriations Committee have collected more than $357,000. </p> <p>That’s the big picture. When we look at contributions from Ford Motor Company and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., we see a similar pattern. Together, these companies’ PACs and executives have given nearly $1.9 million to candidates and parties since 1995. The Senators and House Members who got the most are the ones who push hardest for the auto lobby’s interests on Capitol Hill. For example, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), has received $8,000 from Ford Motor Company PACs since 1995 and more than $74,000 from the auto industry overall. He recently sponsored a provision to stall plans by the NHTSA to issue rate rollover potential of SUVs, pulling it only after pressure rose from the recent tragedies. </p> <p>The report we are releasing today provides details of these contribution patterns. Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing we see over and over again. Every industry follows the same strategy - give to the very politicians who are regulating them. The banks give to members of the banking committees. The oil companies give to members of the commerce and environmental committees. The tobacco companies give to members of the agriculture committees. Then we wonder why we see public policy skewed toward these interests and away from the public at large. It’s not difficult to understand - it’s a simple matter of connecting the dots. </p> <p>What we need is a clean break, so that candidates can run for office without being dependent on special interest contributors. Under a Clean Money campaign finance system, candidates who agree to forego private contributions and accept strict spending limits, receive a limited and equal amount to run their campaigns from a publicly-financed Clean Elections fund. Under such a system, auto safety advocates who have little campaign cash to offer but plenty of substantive ideas would have a more even chance on the policy playing field with the auto lobby. </p> <p>Clean Money is already the law in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. In Missouri and Oregon, voters will vote this fall on Clean Money-style initiatives in their own states. And here in Washington, model legislation is being sponsored by Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Representative John Tierney (D-MA). </p> Hopefully, the day is not far off when it won’t take a hundred deaths to push Congress to act in the public’s interest, rather than doing the bidding of big campaign contributors. <div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 02 Oct 2000 04:00:00 +0000 1431 at HARD FACTS <div align="center"><strong> Hard Money in the 2000 Elections Read the Report </strong> <!-- InstanceEndEditable --> <!-- InstanceBeginEditable name="PRText" --><br /> </div> <div align="left"><p class="bodytext"><em>Washington, D</em>C -- For every one soft dollar raised by national political parties in the 2000 federal elections, nearly five hard dollars have been raised by parties and federal candidates: $256 million in party soft money versus $1.3 billion in hard, according to a new report by Public Campaign, Hard Facts: Hard Money in the 2000 Elections. </p></div><div align="left"><p class="bodytext">Nearly two-thirds of all this hard money comes from a tiny group of mostly wealthy individuals and special interest Political Action Committees (PACs). Many of the hard money donors are the same cast of characters that are giving soft money contributions, and they are giving for the same reasons: to gain access to elected officials and influence policy. </p> <p class="bodytext">“We are seeing politicians defending hard money contributions to their campaigns as ‘clean’ or ‘good’ compared to soft money contributions,” said Nick Nyhart, Public Campaign’s executive director. “Yet these politicians are taking millions of dollars in hard money from the very same special interests that contribute soft money. It’s a scam, and the public needs to know about it.” </p> <p class="bodytext"><strong>Among the findings in the report: </strong></p> <p class="bodytext"> Hard money receipts increased by $327 million during the first 18 months of the election cycle, compared to the same point in the 1996 elections. That’s more than three times the increase in party soft money-$106 million. </p> <p class="bodytext">For Congressional candidates, hard money provides the greatest part by far of campaign cash. By June 30, 2000, Senate candidates had raised $259.7 million in hard money. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised another $55.5 million in hard money. The sum of these amounts dwarf the $51.4 million in soft money raised by the Senate party committees. The same pattern holds for the House. Candidates for House seats raised $393 million-and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee raised another $80.5 million in hard money. In comparison, the committees raised only $62.9 million in soft money </p> <p class="bodytext">Seventy-five percent of the automotive industry’s contributions to federal candidates and parties during the 2000 election cycle are hard money, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. So are 59 percent of the securities and investment industry’s contributions, 51 percent of the oil and gas industry’s contributions, and 52 percent of the TV/Movies/Music sector’s contributions. </p> <p class="bodytext">“There is a purpose behind the mislabeling of hard money as ‘good’ political money,” the report states. “[I]f hard money contributions are perceived as innocent, the campaign finance reform debate becomes confined to regulation of soft money, and the door is opened to the unholy tradeoff of banning soft money in exchange for loosening regulations on hard money.” </p> <p class="bodytext">Although soft money has grown in importance in recent years, hard money remains the focus of fundraising, particularly in the early stages of campaigns, the report shows. The way for candidates to show viability is by accumulating early contributions directly for their campaign treasuries-these are hard money contributions. Party soft money is useless without hard money. Federal law requires that party soft money may be spent only in combination with hard money according to a complex state-by-state formula-in a presidential election year, roughly two hard dollars for every one soft dollar. </p> <p class="bodytext">The term “hard money” refers to campaign contributions regulated by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which sets limits on contributions by individuals, political parties, and PACs, among other conditions. “Soft money” describes unlimited contributions to national party committees. </p> <p class="bodytext">Effective reform must address both hard and soft money contributions. Public Campaign supports a comprehensive Clean Money system that addresses both hard and soft money contributions, by providing public funds and eliminating the need for candidates to depend on special interest contributions, hard or soft. Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont have new Clean Money systems. Missouri and Oregon voters have the opportunity this election to approve Clean Money-style initiatives in their states. On the federal level, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and Representative John Tierney (D-Mass.) have proposed legislation and Vice-President Al Gore has stated his support for full public funding of federal general elections. </p> <p class="bodytext">The 10-page report provides analysis of national hard money and party soft money fundraising through June 30, 2000, comparing it to the first 18 months of the 1995-96 election cycle. The report discusses the significance of hard money with examples from specific campaigns and describes survey results on why donors give hard money. It includes profiles of hard and soft money giving by selected industries that lobby in Washington for policies that are not always in the public interest-including the automotive, computer/internet, pharmaceutical, and the TV/movies/music industries. </p> <p class="bodytext">For a hard copy of the report, contact Public Campaign, at 202-293-0222. The report is also posted on Public Campaign’s web site, at </p> </div><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 31 Oct 2000 05:00:00 +0000 1432 at “Clean” Elections Moves West <p> Monday, January 8, 2001 marks a new day in Arizona government. For the first time legislators who ran for office free of any obligations to campaign contributors under the state’s new “Citizens Clean Elections Act” are being sworn in. The new law was approved by the voters in a 1998 initiative. It provides candidates who opt into the program with public financing for their campaigns. To receive the public funds, candidates must gather a specified number of five dollar qualifying contributions, abide by spending limits and accept no additional campaign contributions. </p><p>“I am looking forward to working with these legislators for the next two years because they are dedicated to the concerns of the citizens of Arizona, not the concerns of special interests and big money,” said Shar Bozack, Executive Director of Arizona’s Clean Elections Institute. </p><p>Two state senators-a Democrat and a Republican-and 12 members of the house (20 percent) got elected running “clean.” Of the six people who ran for the Corporations Commission, a statewide regulatory body, three ran “clean” and two of them were elected-and sworn in on January 2. The third seat on the commission wasn’t up, so now the Corporations Commission will have a 2 out of 3 &quot;clean&quot; majority. Over all, 36 percent of the Clean Election candidates who ran won their races. </p><p>The state of Maine also had “clean” elections this year, with its new legislature sworn in on December 6. One-third of Maine’s legislature took office without ties to special interest money. In the Senate, 17 out of 35 members won their seats without private funding. In the House, 45 out of 151 winners participated in the program. The Clean Election members include the Democratic House Speaker and the leader of the Senate Republicans. Overall, 116 out of 352 general election legislature candidates opted into the Clean Election program. Sixty-three percent of the participating candidates were Democrats and 34 percent were Republicans. Thirty-two percent were incumbents. Almost half the races had at least one candidate running “clean.” </p><p>The Lieutenant Governor of Vermont, Douglas Racine, also ran with public financing under legislation going into effect this year. He took office on January 4. </p><p>“We are extremely pleased with the way the system worked in these states,” said Nick Nyhart, Executive Director of Public Campaign, a national reform group. “It cut campaign spending, reduced the role of big money, leveled the playing field, freed candidate time to talk to the voters, encouraged qualified people to run and improved the debate. These laws show the nation what comprehensive campaign finance reform can, and should, look like. Elected officials should be indebted to the voters by virtue of votes cast, not contributors by virtue of dollars paid. That’s the way democracy is supposed to work.” </p><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 08 Jan 2001 05:00:00 +0000 1433 at Ashcroft’s Record on Campaign Finance Questioned <p> Nick Nyhart, Executive Director of Public Campaign, sent a <a href="">letter</a> today to Senator Patrick Leahy requesting that the Senate Judiciary Committee investigate Senator John Ashcroft’s commitment to enforcing federal campaign finance laws. Mr Nyhart also asked that the committee examine the conflicts of interest Senator Ashcroft would face as the head of an agency taking actions affecting interest groups from which he has been a major recipient of campaign donations. Mr. Nyhart cited in his letter allegations of Senator Ashcroft’s violation of campaign laws, his objections to campaign finance reform legislation and his history as a prodigious fundraiser from lobbying interests. </p><p>“There are several serious questions that must be answered by Senator Ashcroft during his confirmation hearing,” said Nyhart. “Did he or did he not violate the law during his past campaigns? Can he as the Attorney General enforce campaign laws that he is adamantly, and publicly, against? How can the American people be confident that his decisions on corporations that have issues pending with the Department of Justice will not be affected by the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he has received from them?” </p><p> “The Senate must not hastily confirm Senator Ashcroft without fully investigating the allegations of these illegal practices, his past responsiveness to campaign contributors and his willingness to enforce campaign finance laws,” continued Nyhart. “As a Senator, Ashcroft has never been shy in accepting large contributions from special interest groups and aggressively championing their causes. Will these same practices now be instituted at the Department of Justice?” </p><p> Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization working on behalf of comprehensive campaign finance reform. </p><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 17 Jan 2001 05:00:00 +0000 1434 at STRONG McCAIN-FEINGOLD BILL GOOD STEP TOWARD MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM <p> Public Campaign, a non-profit, non-partisan organization working toward comprehensive campaign finance reform, released a position paper today in support of a strong McCain-Feingold bill as an important first step toward extensive reform. The paper warns, though, that even with passage of this legislation, there will still be a long way to go in reforming campaign finance law. </p><p> “The huge amount of money that was spent by both parties this past election cycle is a clear indication that reform is a must,” said Executive Director Nick Nyhart. “A strong McCain-Feingold bill that bans soft money and restricts sham issue ads, provides an important first step towards comprehensive reform. But we must not forget that it is just a first step.” </p><p>The paper warns that provisions that might be attached to the bill, such as increasing the current limits on hard money contributions and anti-union “paycheck protection” measures, would greatly damage the cause of reform. “McCain-Feingold offers a tremendous opportunity,” said Nyhart, “but passage of a bill that, while closing some loopholes, weakens the system in other ways, could be a step in the wrong direction.” </p><p> Public Campaign, founded in 1997, advocates Clean Money, Clean Elections legislation which provides full voluntary public financing for Congressional candidates who agree to spending caps and to forego raising private donations. </p><div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 22 Jan 2001 05:00:00 +0000 1435 at JOHN ASHCROFT’S CAMPAIGN FINANCE RECORD REQUIRES A FULL INVESTIGATION <p> <strong> A Joint Statement by<br /> John Bonifaz, Executive Director, National Voting Rights Institute<br /> Scott Harshbarger, President and CEO of Common Cause<br /> Nick Nyhart, Executive Director, Public Campaign<br /> </strong> </p><p> Washington, D.C. - Recent revelations in the past two days on John Ashcroft’s campaign finance record raise troubling questions which need complete answers prior to a full Senate vote on his nomination to be Attorney General of the United States. These allegations can not be ignored and a full investigation into these possible improprieties must ensue. See “Possible Ashcroft Campaign Violation,” <em>The Washington Post</em>, February 1, 2001, A04; “Senate Panel Backs Ashcroft Despite Fund-Raising Issues,” <em>Wall Street Journal</em>, January 31, 2001, A22. </p><p> Today, <em>The Washington Post</em> reports that a political action committee established by John Ashcroft appears to have engaged in a blatant violation of the $10,000 limit on contributions to federal campaigns, as well as the reporting requirements that apply to PAC contributions. Mr. Ashcroft’s “Spirit of Victory” PAC donated a fundraising list to Mr. Ashcroft’s 2000 Senate campaign after the PAC had already made its maximum $10,000 donation to Mr. Ashcroft’s campaign, according to the <em>Washington Post</em> article. The list was worth over $116,000 to Mr. Ashcroft’s Senate campaign, which used the list to raise that amount by renting it to other users. The in-kind donation would itself be illegal under federal law once the PAC’s $10,000 limit had been reached, and according to the <em>Washington Post</em>, neither the PAC nor Mr. Ashcroft’s Senate campaign ever reported the transfer of the list, as is also required by federal law. </p><p> Mr. Ashcroft’s record also shows that he engaged in a major evasion of federal campaign finance laws in his Senate race last year by directly raising in his own name soft money contributions that were then channeled through national and state political party committees and spent to help his Senate campaign. This evasion resulted in the solicitation and receipt of soft money contributions from corporate interests and others with important case-specific matters pending in the Justice Department. </p><p> Further, court documents from a 1982 lawsuit against John Ashcroft reveal that, as Missouri’s attorney general, Mr. Ashcroft engaged in highly questionable, and possibly illegal, fundraising practices. These practices demand further investigation. Of special concern is the conduct of Mr. Ashcroft during an investigation and subsequent litigation against a Missouri oil company and related parties. During the pendency of this investigation and litigation, Mr. Ashcroft refused to answer questions about a personal fundraising visit made to Peter Merrill, a business associate of one of the targets of the investigation. </p><p> The court documents also reveal that the Missouri State Republican Committee regularly sent out fundraising letters soliciting contributions on the letterhead of the office of the Attorney General of Missouri, bearing Mr. Ashcroft’s signature. Further, the documents show that, while serving as Attorney General of Missouri, Mr. Ashcroft hired a state employee, on state time, to carry out fundraising for Mr. Ashcroft’s 1984 gubernatorial campaign and to engage on a regular basis in other political campaign activities. </p> The public has a right to know whether Mr. Ashcroft has violated federal campaign finance laws in his 2000 U.S. Senate race and whether he misused the power of his office as Missouri’s attorney general for political campaign and fundraising purposes. Americans must have confidence that Mr. Ashcroft would properly uphold and enforce the law as Attorney General of the United States, including the nation’s campaign finance laws. We call upon the United States Senate to not only delay a final vote on this nomination but engage in a full investigation of these matters.<div class="field field-type-filefield field-file"> <div class="field-item odd first last"> <div class="filefield-file "><a href="" class=""></a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 01 Feb 2001 05:00:00 +0000 1436 at