Reps. Tauscher and Pappas
June 4, 1997
in this forum:
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A question from Lisa Phillips of Flemington, NJ:
I am concerned about the upcoming campaign finance investigation. It seems likely that the real issue of how our country runs elections will be generally ignored and instead it seems likely that it will be a nasty partisan he-said/she-said fight. What are the two members of Congress trying to do to lessen the nastiness of the investigation and improve the way we elect our officials?
Rep. Pappas responds:
The investigation that is taking place by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, of which I am a member, is about alleged allegations of violations of laws including strong charges that our nation's national security was corrupted. The public wants the truth, not a cover up and I look forward to ascertaining the real facts. The scope of this investigation will go wherever the evidence leads in terms of widely publicized allegations.
Many of the allegations that have come out deal with violations of existing laws. I believe that before we begin reforming the system itself we must ensure that all candidates for federal office follow the current laws. In a way it is kind of like a person who after getting caught for speeding, claims that we need to reform speed limits. At the beginning of this Congress, in an on-going effort the newly elected Members, got together in a bi-partisan way, in order to look at different areas of reform.
Rep. Tauscher responds:
I agree that we must change our system of funding campaigns. As a Member of Congress who recently completed my first campaign for elective office, I know first-hand the deficiencies of our electoral process. Instead of providing an opportunity for legitimate debate on important issues, political campaigns have become largely a chase for money.
In an effort to change the manner in which campaigns operate, I was appointed to be one of 12 freshmen to work in a bipartisan manner to propose reforms to the campaign finance system. Our task force, consisting of six freshmen Democrats and six freshmen Republicans, has conducted a series of hearings broadcast on C-SPAN to examine the problems with our system and proposals that have been made to reform the process. We heard from experts in academia, other Members of Congress who have made reform proposals, and interest groups with a stake in the electoral process. Our task force is now in the process of evaluating the information we collected at the hearings and preparing reform legislation that we hope will gain the support of the majority of our colleagues.
The upcoming Congressional hearings on campaign irregularities will take a closer look at what is wrong with the way campaigns are run. But without a bipartisan effort to change the system we are likely to see many of the same abuses in the next election cycle. We in the bipartisan Freshman Campaign Finance Reform Task Force hope that our reform proposal will add momentum to the effort to fix our broken system.