Senators Enzi and Reed
June 18, 1997
in this forum:
Will campaign finance be reformed? How should OSHA be reformed? Are Congressional investigators caught in a Catch-22? How should campaign financing be changed? Doesn't campaign reform violate the First Amendment?
General information, schedules and past Freshmen Forums.
Return to @the Capitol.
Scrutinize the work of several major Congressional committees in online forums with the chairs and ranking members.
Follow the first year in Congress of Freshmen Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Jay Johnson (D-WI)
A question from Carl Schulman of Newport News, VA:
It seems that the Senate and the House are caught in a political catch-22. If they really look into campaign financing than they will be labeled as partisan Republicans. Is there any way for the Congress to avoid being charged with a "Political Witchhunt" and still investigate the way we run elections?
Senator Enzi responds:
Thank you for writing in about the ongoing investigations into illegal and improper campaign contributions.
There is no doubt that any time you begin an investigation of this scope, there will be strong resistance from those who have something to hide. The investigation under way by the Senate Government Affairs Committee, however, is not partisan in nature. One of its primary aims is discovering whether foreign governments sought to influence American policy through illegal political contributions. Uncovering this type of activity should be an important goal of Democrats and Republicans alike.
The Committee cannot directly control the way the press will report the investigation, but a careful examination of the facts illustrates that the ongoing investigation is in no way a "political witchhunt". The committee has to date issued 160 subpoenas. These include 69 subpoenas to banks or for telephone records, 8 to government agencies, and another 31 for Buddhist organizations.
Only 23 subpoenas have been directed at entities with clear political ties. Of these, 5 have been issued to organizations generally associated with Democratic candidates and 18 have been issued to organizations associated with Republicans. I believe the committee has to date conducted a comprehensive and fair investigation.
Thank you for contacting me on the online forum.
Senator Reed responds:
If the committees are truly interested in investigating past violations, they should first act on campaign finance reform. Once Congress passed such reform, the committees could investigate allegations without the incentive for either party to posture for an advantage in the reform movement.
The process of reform must begin immediately. Everyone recognizes that the first step is getting rid of soft money. Toward that end, I have written a letter to the Federal Election Commission urging that unlimited soft money contributions by corporations, unions, and individuals to political parties be banned. I am now in the process of asking my colleagues in the Senate to sign this letter as an indication of their support for banning soft money.
By early summer, I plan to introduce a proposal that would address many of the concerns that have been raised about our current campaign finance system. The Congressional committees need to begin considering such proposals as quickly as possible.