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Inside the Campaign Finance Battle

Inside the Campaign Finance Battle: Court Testimony on the New Reforms

Anthony Corrado
Thomas E. Mann
Trevor Potter
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 333
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  • Book Info
    Inside the Campaign Finance Battle
    Book Description:

    In 2002 Congress enacted the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), the first major revision of federal campaign finance law in a generation. In March 2001, after a fiercely contested and highly divisive seven-year partisan legislative battle, the Senate passed S. 27, known as the McCain-Feingold legislation. The House responded by passing H.R. 2356, companion legislation known as Shays-Meehan, in February 2002. The Senate then approved the House-passed version, and President George W. Bush signed BCRA into law on March 27, 2002, stating that the bill had "flaws" but overall "improves the current system of financing for federal campaigns." The Reform Act was taken to court within hours of the President's signature. Dozens of interest groups and lawmakers who had opposed passage of the Act in Congress lodged complaints that challenged the constitutionality of virtually every aspect of the new law. Following review by a special three-judge panel, the case is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. This litigation constitutes the most important campaign finance case since the Supreme Court issued its decision in Buckley v. Valeo more than twenty-five years ago. The testimony, submitted by some of the country's most knowledgeable political scientists and most experienced politicians, constitutes an invaluable body of knowledge about the complexities of campaign finance and the role of money in our political system. Unfortunately, only the lawyers, political scientists, and practitioners actually involved in the litigation have seen most of this writing -until now. Inside the Campaign Finance Battle makes key testimony in this historic case available to a general readership, in the process shedding new light on campaign finance practices central to the congressional debate on the reform act and to the landmark litigation challenging its constitutionality.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-1584-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Finance

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Editors’ Note An Explanation of This Volume
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Anthony Corrado, Thomas Mann and Trevor Potter
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Congress last year enacted the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the first major revision of federal campaign finance law in a generation. The sponsors and supporters of this legislation describe the statute as a long overdue and urgently needed package of reforms designed to restore the system of campaign finance envisioned by Congress when it adopted the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) in the 1970s. Its purpose, they argue, is to repair egregious tears in the regulatory fabric that rendered utterly ineffective long-standing prohibitions on corporate and union treasury financing of federal elections and disclosure requirements for federal electioneering....

  5. Part I Political Parties

    • Analyses of Academic Experts

      • The Rise of Soft Money
        (pp. 17-39)
        Thomas E. Mann

        The rise of television and the increasingly candidate-centered nature of federal election campaigns after World War II led to a substantial increase in campaign costs and growing concerns about political financing. But it was not until the early 1970s that Congress began to wrestle seriously with the shortcomings of the old system and the challenges of the new. The Revenue Act of 1971 created a presidential public financing system funded with an income tax check-off, but its effective date was delayed until the 1976 election. Congress also passed the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which strengthened reporting requirements and...

      • Parties versus Interest Groups
        (pp. 40-48)
        Sidney M. Milkis

        Since the dawn of the twentieth century, many factors have threatened the indispensable yet fragile place of parties in American politics, including the growth of the mass media and the development of a mass entertainment industry. But these forces would have been far less debilitating were it not for reforms such as the direct primary, registration laws, and campaign finance reforms. The campaign finance laws of the 1970s—the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the 1974 amendments that were added to it—further advanced a reform effort to “purify” politics—to eliminate even the “appearance” of corruption. But...

      • Why Soft Money Has Not Strengthened Parties
        (pp. 49-68)
        Jonathan S. Krasno and Frank Sorauf

        There is no need to speculate about the immediate impact of a soft-money ban on parties since there is a long record of soft-money receipts and expenditures dating back a decade and longer.¹ The two national committees and the congressional campaign committees raised nearly $1.2 billion in soft money from 1991 to 2000, including more than $700 million in the 1997–98 and 1999–2000 election cycles.² Of this sum, more than $500 million was transferred to state parties during this period, in addition to the $235 million of hard money that the national committees sent to the states.³ We...

      • Why Soft Money Has Strengthened Parties
        (pp. 69-96)
        Raymond J. La Raja

        Political parties are essential institutions in democracies. This is a widely accepted premise among political scientists. In the United States, political parties have played a critical role linking citizens to their government locally and nationally. Through efforts to build coalitions of candidates, officeholders, and voters at every level of government, American political parties have been agents of consensus in a society characterized by individualism and diversity of interests. But unlike parties in Europe, American party organizations have not been highly centralized. Instead, political parties at each level have enjoyed considerable autonomy while they work together toward common goals.

        American political...

      • The Need for Federal Regulation of State Party Activity
        (pp. 97-115)
        Donald Green

        This report’s recurrent theme is that parties are highly adaptable strategic actors. Notwithstanding their resistance to laws that restrict their ability to solicit and transfer large donations, parties will quickly adjust to the new incentive system created by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), for example, by broadening their base of contributors. But it is the parties’ very adaptability that poses a serious danger should the Court strike down the provisions that limit how state parties may finance federal election activity. Political parties are flexible, multitiered organizations that are structured in ways that are designed to win power. Regulations directed...

    • Politicians and Party Officials

      • A Senate Democrat’s Perspective
        (pp. 116-118)
        David Boren

        When I left the Senate in 1994, I left with a sense of gratitude for having had the privilege to serve there, but also in a state of great alarm about its future. Congress as an institution is in trouble, and only a change in the way our campaigns are financed can mend the broken trust between the American people and their government.

        During my time in the Senate, I was one of a handful of senators who did not take any money from political action committees (PACs). I also tried to minimize the time I spent raising “soft money”...

      • A Senate Republican’s Perspective
        (pp. 119-121)
        Alan K. Simpson

        During my tenure in the U.S. Senate, I became acutely aware of the need for campaign finance reform, particularly with the impact of soft money on the political system. I have seen firsthand how the current campaign financing system prostitutes ideas and ideals, demeans democracy, and debases debates.

        The national parties often ask senators to make phone calls to raise soft money and the process is like a boiler-room operation. When I was in the Senate, the Republican leadership would take us off Capitol Hill—usually to the Reagan Center—give us a list of heavy hitters, and tell us...

      • Mobilizing Voters: The Coordinated Campaign
        (pp. 122-124)
        Gail Stoltz

        One of my major functions is overseeing our “coordinated campaign” programs in the various states. A coordinated campaign is a project of the state party to register, identify, and turn out voters on behalf of the entire Democratic ticket, including federal, state, and local candidates. The purpose is to increase turnout of Democratic voters for the benefit of all the party’s candidates, whether for state, local, or federal office. Typically, the various state parties draft a coordinated campaign plan, which is then approved by the political staff at the DNC. The DNC’s outside political consultants and donors to the coordinated...

      • State Party Activity and the BCRA
        (pp. 125-136)
        Kathleen Bowler

        CDP is integrally related to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is the governing body of the Democratic Party of the United States. Under its charter, the DNC is made up principally of the state chair and highest ranking officer of the opposite gender from each recognized state Democratic Party, and of 200 additional members apportioned to, and selected by, the state parties, on the basis of a formula taking into account population and Democratic voting strength. Thus, CDP’s chair and vice chair are members of the DNC by virtue of their state party offices; and CDP has elected 20...

      • State Party Activity under the Levin Amendment
        (pp. 137-142)
        Mark Brewer

        Although I am familiar with the term “soft money” being used to refer to unlimited contributions from individuals, labor organizations, and corporations, from the perspective of a state party committee, there is no such thing as unregulated “soft money.” There are federally regulated contributions and state-regulated contributions. In accordance with Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations, 11 C.F.R. §102.5, MDP maintains a “federal account” to receive federally regulated contributions and “nonfederal” accounts to receive state-regulated contributions, as described below. State-regulated contributions to state party committees—that is, contributions to the nonfederal accounts—are very frequently mischaracterized as “soft money.”

        Under Michigan...

      • Role of Federal Officials in State Party Fund-Raising
        (pp. 143-144)
        Mitch McConnell

        The BCRA will substantially impair my activities (and the activities of those construed to be my agents) with respect to national, state, and local political parties, and state and local candidates.

        As a federal officeholder, I will no longer be able to raise money not subject to the BCRA’s restrictions (soft money) for the purpose of voter registration, voter identification, get-out-the-vote activities, issue advocacy, building funds, and national support for state and local candidates. I have been involved substantially in raising money for each of these activities in the past and would do so in the future, absent the BCRA....

  6. Part II Issue Advocacy

    • Scholarly Analyses

      • Party and Interest Group Electioneering in Federal Elections
        (pp. 147-174)
        David B. Magleby

        Interest groups and individuals have multiple means to seek to influence the outcome of a federal election. Many of these strategies fall under the scope of the FECA and Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). However, interest groups, individuals, corporations, and unions have found ways to conduct electioneering and circumvent FECA requirements. Some provisions of BCRA seek to remedy this situation. In this section, I review what the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy (CSED) case studies have found about election advocacy and genuine issue advocacy in the 1998 and 2000 elections, including five presidential primary elections.

        My research...

      • Electioneering Communications in Recent Elections: The Case for a New Standard
        (pp. 175-188)
        Kenneth M. Goldstein

        The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act’s (BCRA) provisions focus on broadcast ads sponsored by parties and interest groups. The main subject of this report is the nature of interest group advertising in the 2000 contest and, more specifically, the ads and sponsors that would be directly affected by BCRA provisions relating to ads that mention or depict a candidate and are broadcast within sixty days of a general election or thirty days of a primary election for federal office. A secondary focus is the nature of advertising by political parties.

        I draw primarily on a database of political television advertisements aired...

      • Issue Advocacy and the Integrity of the Political Process
        (pp. 189-200)
        Jonathan S. Krasno and Frank Sorauf

        In our earlier discussion of soft money we argued that corruption encompassed bribery, undue influence, and the more extreme forms of privileged access. We stand by that definition here. The use of candidate-oriented issue ads for electioneering by an array of established interest groups, freshly minted “organizations,” and parties in the last several election cycles has also created a broader set of problems about elections that we will address in this subsection. Our decision to place this discussion here is inspired in part by the Supreme Court’s earlier concern for the “integrity of the electoral process,” the controlling interest in...

      • Rebuttal to the Expert Reports of Kenneth M. Goldstein and Jonathan S. Krasno and Frank J. Sorauf
        (pp. 201-220)
        James L. Gibson

        In my review of the originalBuying Timereports (1998 and 2000), I drew several major conclusions about the reports, their conclusions, and the data upon which the studies were based. It is perhaps useful to begin this rebuttal with a brief restatement of these conclusions.

        As provided by Professor Goldstein, the 1998 and 2000 data bases are riddled with errors and inconsistencies and the findings of the reports cannot be replicated from the data.

        The key measures that are the focus of this litigation require highly subjective assessments and the student coders making those judgments never received any instruction...

      • Rebuttal to Gibson
        (pp. 221-236)
        Jonathan S. Krasno

        Professor James L. Gibson raises a series of concerns—some serious and some less so—about the 1998 and 2000 editions ofBuying Timeand the datasets from which they were derived. In this rebuttal, I address many of these issues by drawing on my experience as lead author ofBuying Time: Television Advertising in the 1998 Congressional Elections (Buying Time 1998), author of the grant proposal that produced it, and author of the coding instrument used in 1998 and later adopted with little revision for 2000. I confine my remarks to Professor Gibson’s discussion ofBuying Time 1998, although...

    • Views of the Advocates:: Parties, Organized Groups, and Political Consultants

      • The National Association of Manufacturers’ Advertising Helps Lobby Congress
        (pp. 237-241)
        Paul R. Huard

        To advance the interests of its members, the National Association of Manufacturers must regularly consult with members of Congress, officers of the executive branch, and others, including political party officials and current or likely candidates for election to federal office. At the same time, NAM must consult and work with a wide variety of other politically active organizations. The groups we work with range from other business associations to national labor organizations to citizen groups organized around specific policy views or objectives, depending on the issue.

        NAM has on occasion run broadcast issue ads. For example, on two occasions in...

      • Why the Chamber of Commerce Runs Issue Ads
        (pp. 242-245)
        R. Bruce Josten

        To advance the interests of its members, the Chamber of Commerce must and does regularly consult with members of Congress, officers of the executive branch, and others, including political party officials and current or likely candidates for election to federal office. At the same time, the Chamber must consult and work with a wide variety of politically active organizations. Depending on the issue, the groups we work with may range from other business associations to national labor organizations to citizen groups organized around specific policy views or objectives.

        In building and maintaining support for the Chamber’s legislative and policy agenda,...

      • How the Reform Act Adversely Affects the Associated Builders and Contractors
        (pp. 246-249)
        Edward L. Monroe

        The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., is a Maryland nonprofit corporation funded primarily by membership dues. It is a national trade association representing more than 23,000 contractors and related firms in the construction industry. Its members include both unionized and nonunion employers and share the philosophy that construction work should be awarded and performed on the basis of merit, regardless of labor affiliation. Representatives of ABC meet with officeholders, candidates, political party officials, and their respective staffs to encourage their support of legislation that advances our goals. In addition, it has paid for broadcast communications that referred to clearly identified...

      • A Practitioner Looks at How Issue Groups Select and Target Federal Candidates
        (pp. 250-251)
        Rocky Pennington

        Some interest groups conduct what amounts to a vetting process to decide if they will help a particular federal or state candidate. These groups often do a lot of screening before deciding to commit resources. Many make the candidates fill out lengthy questionnaires and then bring them in and essentially grill them about their positions on specific issues. Some groups, such as Associated Industries, actually videotape the interview so they can have it to show the candidate if they’re successful and the issue comes up in the legislature, to remind them of what their position should be. Many groups have...

      • How Issue Ads Are Designed to Target Federal Candidates without “Express Advocacy”
        (pp. 252-253)
        Douglas L. Bailey

        In the modern world of thirty-second political advertisements, it is rarely advisable to use such clumsy words as “vote for” or “vote against.” If I am designing an ad and want the conclusion to be the number 20, I would use the ad to count from 1 to 19. I would lead the viewer to think 20, but I would never say it. All advertising professionals understand that the most effective advertising leads the viewer to his or her own conclusion without forcing it down their throat. This is especially true of political advertising because people are generally very skeptical...

      • A Consultant’s View on How Issue Ads Shaped a Congressional Election
        (pp. 254-256)
        Terry S. Beckett

        Interest groups were an important factor in the 2000 congressional election in Florida’s Eighth District. Many interest groups offered to provide campaign support, telling us all about what they would do for us if Linda Chapin would pledge to vote a certain way on their issues. You can send them your position, and they may come back and say, “This isn’t worded the way we like it worded.” They want you on record saying it the way they want before they will provide the money. We lost some money that way in the 2000 race because we didn’t like those...

  7. Part III Public Opinion and Corruption

    • Evidence from Public Opinion Research

      • Public Attitudes toward Campaign Finance Practice and Reform
        (pp. 259-265)
        Robert Y. Shapiro

        The analysis and summary here focus on public opinion data based on responses to surveys that were fielded since 1990 (except for trend data that go back a bit further). The full data assembled include responses to questions that were asked in surveys since the 1940s. The findings from those earlier questions are similar, but for purposes of brevity they are not included nor discussed here.

        To what extent has the public seen the need to reform the campaign finance system to limit the influence of money in the political process?For well more than a decade, the public has...

      • Public Views of Party Soft Money
        (pp. 266-269)
        Mark Mellman and Richard Wirthlin

        This study demonstrates that large political contributions to parties are seen by the public to have a significant and detrimental influence on the American political system and the actions of elected representatives of the federal government. Our principal finding is that the American public believes:

        The views of large contributors to parties improperly influence policy and are given undue weight in determining policy outcomes.

        Another significant conclusion is that the American public believes:

        The amount of time federal officials spend raising money for their parties compromises their ability to do the public’s business properly.

        The strength of these findings is...

      • The Reform Act Will Not Reduce the Appearance of Corruption in American Politics
        (pp. 270-277)
        Whitfield Ayres

        I have reviewed data on campaign finance from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, one of the most widely respected repositories of publicly available public opinion data; the Poll Track database, compiled by theNational Journal;an extensive online repository of data published in theHotline;as well as historical data available from the Gallup Organization, the Pew Research Center at Princeton University, and NBC/Wall Street Journalpolls. The data do not support the contention that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act will reduce the appearance of corruption in American politics.

        In American democracy, public opinion sets the range of...

      • Rebuttal to Ayres
        (pp. 278-284)
        Robert Y. Shapiro

        I have reviewed the expert report of Whitfield Ayres. I find that it contains serious flaws in reasoning and conclusions that are not supported by his data. In preparation of my original expert report, I studied many hundreds of survey questions and presented more than 200 tables of survey results. By contrast, Mr. Ayres selectively cited a total of eight polls.

        In this rebuttal report, I take issue with three major claims he makes in his report based on polling analysis that is highly problematic. First, Ayres claims that he can predict future public perceptions and actual political behavior based...

      • Campaign Contributions, the Appearance of Corruption, and Trust in Government
        (pp. 285-296)
        David M. Primo

        Defendants’ experts make assertions regarding the links among the appearance of corruption, campaign finance law, and Americans’ confidence in their government. These are empirical claims that can be analyzed if phrased precisely and if terms are well defined. This requires informal statements to be cast as hypotheses, with precise causal relationships stated.

        Following are three interrelated claims about how campaign finance affects government institutions. These are intended to represent defendants’ experts’ views as presented in various reports. As support, note “Intervenors’ Responses to Republican National Committee’s Second Set of Interrogatories to Defendants,” page 7, which states, “Intervenors contend that the...

    • Donor Perspectives

      • Large Contributions Provide Unequal Access
        (pp. 297-299)
        Robert Rozen

        I know of organizations who believe that to be treated seriously in Washington, and by that I mean to be a player and to have access, you need to give soft money. As a result, many organizations give soft money. While some soft money is given for ideological purposes, companies and trade associations working on public policy for the most part give to pursue their economic interests. In some cases, they might limit their contributions to one political party. More often, they give to both. They give soft money because they believe it helps establish better contacts with members of...

      • Corporate America Contributes Soft Money under Pressure
        (pp. 300-301)
        Gerald Greenwald

        The fact is that the people who raise large soft-money contributions from business corporations and labor unions are often sitting members of Congress that consider matters affecting the financial health or operations of the organizations being solicited. Often, the members who solicit large corporate contributions sit on committees that directly affect the corporation’s business. Similarly, these members’ actions affect issues of interest to labor unions. Congressional committees regularly consider matters that importantly affect both business and labor in regulated and unregulated industries—from tax legislation to trade legislation to industry deregulation to environmental legislation, to list just a few examples....

      • Large Contributions Are Given to Influence Legislation
        (pp. 302-304)
        Robert W. Hickmott

        When I was at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1991–92, the DSCC rarely raised or spent soft money, in fact, we frequently turned away offers of corporate money. Our legal counsel at the DSCC was very strict about what soft money could be used for, and there was also a sense among senators at that time that soft money was somehow tainted. The DSCC’s aversion to soft money went back at least to 1985–86, when senator George Mitchell was chair of the DSCC. To the extent that the DSCC spent soft money in 1991–92, it was...

      • Elected Officials Often Used to Obtain Large Donations for the Parties
        (pp. 305-307)
        Wade Randlett

        I have been involved in political fund-raising long enough to remember when soft money had little value to federal candidates. Ten years ago, a senator might call a potential donor and the donor would say something like, “I would love to write you a check, I’m a big fan of yours, but I’m federally maxed, so I can’t do it. If you like, I could write a soft-money check to your state party.” And the senator might say, “Don’t bother. The soft money just doesn’t do me any good.”

        However, in recent election cycles,membersand national committees have asked...

      • Why I Participate in a Corrupt System
        (pp. 308-314)
        Peter L. Buttenwieser

        Since the early 1990s, I have engaged in significant political activity, working with and financially supporting a variety of individuals and organizations. From the 1992 election cycle through the 2002 cycle, I have donated millions of dollars to Democratic candidates and political committees and progressive political organizations. All of these donations have been made from personal funds.

        From the 1996 election cycle through the 2002 cycle, I estimate that I have donated over $2.8 million in nonfederal funds (soft money) to national committees of the Democratic Party, including over $1.2 million in the 2000 election cycle. Also from the 1996...

      • How My Soft-Money Contributions Have Helped Elect Good Federal Candidates
        (pp. 315-316)
        Steven T. Kirsch

        In the 2000 election cycle, I made over $4 million in political donations. This included substantial soft-and hard-money contributions to the Democratic National Committee. It also included over $2 million in soft-money donations to Democratic state party committees, including six-figure donations to the Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida, and Iowa Democratic parties. In addition, I made large donations to interest groups, including six-figure donations to NARAL Pro-Choice America, People for the American Way, and Campaign for a Progressive Future. I also made large independent expenditures for print and Internet banner ads in key swing states, opposing the election...

    • Officeholder Perspectives

      • How the Senate Was Corrupted by Soft Money
        (pp. 317-318)
        Paul Simon

        It is not unusual for large contributors to seek legislative favors in exchange for their contributions. A good example of that which stands out in my mind because it was so stark and recent occurred on the next-to-last day of the 1995–96 legislative session. Federal Express wanted to amend a bill being considered by a conference committee to shift coverage of their truck drivers from the National Labor Relations Act to the Railway Act, which includes airlines, pilots, and railroads. This was clearly of benefit to Federal Express, which, according to published reports, had contributed $1.4 million in the...

      • Consequences of Members Soliciting Soft Money
        (pp. 319-321)
        Warren Rudman

        No one should have any idyllic illusions about the role of money in politics. By and large, the business world, including corporations and unions, gives money to political parties for a combination of two reasons: they believe that large contributions to a party (or in some cases, to both major parties) will enable them to gain privileged access to and special influence over elected and appointed government officials so they can affect government decisions in Washington that affect their interests; and they believe that if they decline solicitations for such contributions, elected and appointed officials will ignore their views, or...

      • A Cosponsor’s Perspective: Why I Don’t Raise Soft Money for the Party
        (pp. 322-323)
        Christopher Shays

        Part of my motivation for reforming our campaign finance system came from responses by my constituents to surveys my congressional office sent out in 1997 and in 1999. The results of both surveys indicated that over 82 percent of my constituents believe that our “democracy is threatened by the influence of unlimited campaign contributions by individuals, corporations, labor unions, and other interest groups.” I agree wholeheartedly.

        My personal experience includes instances when procedural maneuvers were used to prevent votes on legislative issues because of the special interests of major soft-money donors and their influence over the national political parties and...

      • Congress Is Mired in Corrupt Soft Money
        (pp. 324-327)
        John McCain

        Opponents of reform frequently ask reform proponents to cite examples of “quid pro quo” corruption. I believe, based on my experience, that elected officials do act in particular ways to assist large soft-money donors and that this skews and shapes the legislative process. As Representative Eric Fingerhut has noted: “The public will often look for the grand-slam example of the influence of these interests. But rarely will you find it. But you can find a million singles . . . regulatory change, banking committee legislation (to cite a committee that I served on). . . . Think of the committee...

      • Parties Support Members Who Fund-Raise
        (pp. 328-328)
        Dale Bumpers

        Members who raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) expect some of the money to come directly back to them. Part of this unwritten but not unspoken rule is that if you do not raise a certain amount of money for the DSCC, you are not going to get any back. The DSCC does not give a candidate the maximum allowed unless he or she has raised at least a certain amount for the DSCC. The last time I ran, I remember that the DSCC promised to give every candidate a minimal amount of money regardless of whether...

      • Corruption Is Not an Issue in American Politics
        (pp. 329-329)
        Mitch Mcconnell

        During my eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, I have met thousands of Americans with whom I have shaken hands, posed for photographs, answered questions, and discussed legislative issues. The overwhelming majority of these meetings have been with people who are not contributors to the Republican Party at the national, state, or local levels. In fact, I am typically unaware of the contribution history of individuals with whom I meet. Additionally, I have fewer meetings with soft-money contributors to the Republican Party than meetings with noncontributors, and these meetings are typically larger and less conducive to a discussion of legislative...

    • Party Chair Perspectives

      • Parties Undermined by Soft Money
        (pp. 330-331)
        Donald Fowler

        Party and government officials participate in raising large contributions from interests that have matters pending before the executive offices, the Congress, and other government agencies. Party officials, who are not themselves elected officials, offer to large-money donors opportunities to meet with senior government officials. Donors use these opportunities—White House and congressional meetings—to press their views on matters pending before the government. This process undermines our democratic process and creates a lack of confidence in its fairness on the part of average citizens.

        I do not fault party officials for playing this role, so long as it is legal....

      • Parties Weakened by Appearance of Corruption
        (pp. 332-333)
        William E. Brock

        In 1994 I ran for the Senate in Maryland. One conclusion drawn from this experience was that the enormous growth of soft money in the past decade had allowed both parties to substitute those funds for the more arduous task of grassroots organizing, thereby inflating costs and devaluing personal participation. Political parties, the essential “connection” between citizens and their government, were weakened. In effect the parties increasingly became conduits for single-interest influence rather than for the development of broadly based representative government.

        Large contributions—of $50,000, of $100,000, of $250,000—made to political parties by corporations, labor unions, and wealthy...