Monday, June 13, 2005

Unabashed Greed in the House

The New York Times
June 13, 2005
Unabashed Greed in the House

For most Americans, the influence on the last election of unregulated partisan groups with huge advertising budgets was evidence that campaign finance reform has not gone far enough. But not for a group of brazen House Republicans who are trying to gut 30 years of checks on campaign spending and allow fat-cat donors to once more write six-figure checks to candidates.

A shameful bill that would undo much of the post-Watergate reforms is being rushed to the House floor. It would scrap a donor's current limit of $40,000 for candidates across a two-year cycle and let him give $2 million or more. Further, the bill would attack the more recent McCain-Feingold campaign controls by letting the national parties wheel and deal in unlimited amounts in supporting favored candidates.

Voters should remember the name of any politician who stoops to support this destructive measure, which is rated likely to pass by July Fourth.

If nothing else, the recent disclosure of Deep Throat's identity should have recalled for political leaders the terrible lesson of campaign money being used as a slush fund to cover up the Nixon White House's scheme to undermine the 1972 election. The House Administration Committee chairman, Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio, who is hurrying the new bill toward passage, has personal reason to be wary. He has been prominently mentioned in the ongoing investigation of superlobbyists' channeling of special-interest campaign donations to key lawmakers.

The measure would repair one obvious abuse - and temporary Democratic advantage - from last year when the law banning unregulated amounts of "soft money" was circumvented by shadow-party operations called "527 committees" after a section of the tax code. But this repair could be accomplished by a far cleaner proposal that is gathering dust in the Senate, while the House tries to steer American politics straight back toward Watergate.