Reps. Shimkus and Allen
June 11, 1997
in this forum:
Should soft money be banned? Is adultery in the military out of control? What is going on with the emergency relief bill? Shouldn't there simply be full public disclosure of campaign contributions? Would free air time reduce the need to raise money? Should there be a nonpartisan commission on campaign finance reform?
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A question from Warren Doi of Honolulu, HI:
Campaign Finance Reform: soft money
If so many people are against soft money, why doesn't something happen. I understand that there will be winners and losers in any type of restructure in campaign finance laws, but this issue is more important than who wins the next election. It determines our future as a nation. Why don't both sides agree to a impartial commission to write the law, and Congress can only vote yes or no?
A procedure similar to the military base closings process.
Rep. Allen responds:
Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Stephen Horn (R-CA), and David Minge (D-MN) have sponsored a bill to establish such an independent commission on campaign finance reform. The members of the commission would be appointed in an equal, bi-partisan fashion. The commission would examine all the issues within a specified period of time, design a comprehensive bill, and send it to the Congress for an up or down vote.
The sponsors cite the failure of recent efforts to pass reforms. They contend that the independent commission is the only way to pass real campaign finance reform. A commission would not be subjected to political pressures and could draft a bill that addresses issues, not partisan agendas. This approach would also bypass committees and bring the bill straight to the floor, to ensure that the commission's legislation would stay intact.
My major concern with this approach is that it not be used as an excuse to avoid passage of important reforms this year. As I mentioned in response to the first question, I am co-chair of a bipartisan task force of freshman members who are drafting a campaign finance reform bill. While we may not solve all of the problems this year, I am optimistic that we can enact significant reforms now.
Rep. Shimkus responds:
Although many politicians from all political parties and persuasions publicly agree that campaign finance reform is a pressing issue and must be addressed, it is much harder to agree on what the exact problem is, what the extent of the problem is and how to address the problem.
Appointing an "impartial commission" is often not as easy as it sounds, as the impartiality of who appoints a commission and who actually sits on the commission can be questioned. As I mentioned in an earlier response, I am a member of the Bipartisan Freshman Campaign Finance Reform Task Force, which is addressing possible reforms in the modern campaign finance system, and I am a strong advocate of full disclosure of all campaign spending. I would encourage you to watch for the proposals to be introduced by the Task Force in the coming months, and I will update you in future online forums.