Reps. Granger and Johnson
March 19, 1997
in this forum:
Why won't Republicans do away with "soft money"? How difficult is it to represent an entire Congressional District? Questions for Rep. Kay Granger Questions for Rep. Jay Johnson
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A question from John Gramling of Kennesaw, GA:
The Presidents investigation aside, why won't the Republicans agree to consider doing away with all "soft money"?
Rep. Jay Johnson responds:
Campaign finance reform is necessary, but it is a tough Constitutional issue. Because the Supreme Court has decided that money equals freedom of speech, it has been very difficult to enact any meaningful reforms. My goal for reform is to limit the amount of money in campaigns, including soft money. I think that effort would help to open up the system for everybody and bring some sanity into running for office.
Rep. Kay Granger responds:
Thank you for your question. I share your concern about the amount of soft money - money donated directly to political parties - which has flowed into recent campaigns. Many of these donations escape the full disclosure rules which Congress established in the mid-1970s, and they also give rise to an appearance of undue influence by large contributors. So one of my goals as a Member of the House Oversight Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over campaign finance reform, is to take a look at ways to improve the regulation of soft money.
But we need to be very careful before we completely ban soft money donations. There are legitimate functions, such as strengthening our party system, which can be achieved through donations directly to the party. Second, serious First Amendment/free speech questions arise when a ban of soft money donations is proposed, since the Supreme Court, for better or worse, has equated money in the context of political spending with free speech.
Given these concerns, I believe that perhaps the better approach would be to bring more soft money into full disclosure. If more people like you are aware of the sources and amounts of soft money donations, recipients will be less likely to accept funds from dubious sources.