A question from Tiffany Reed of Williamstown, MA:
Is the First Amendment a fundamental concern of those in Congress or is it being used as political cover to kill campaign finance reform?
Rep. Pappas responds:
I believe that before we begin reforming the system itself we must ensure
that all candidates for federal office follow the existing laws. If we
revise federal election finance laws and they are not enforced, are we any
better off? However, I do believe that the First Amendment is an important
concern of Members of Congress.
Rep. Tauscher responds:
We must cognizant of First Amendment concerns and the parameters set by the Supreme Court in th Buckley Vallejo decision when constructing campaign finance legislation. The Supreme Court, in that decision, essentially defined campaign spending as a type of protected speech under the Constitution. However, there are still a number of issues related to campaign finance reform that have not been addressed by the Court in the context of the First Amendment. The necessity for reform is not diminished by the potential for court challenges, and Congress should not shy away from taking the necessary steps to reform the campaign finance system and thus take the first step toward restoring the American people's faith in the electoral system. True campaign finance reform protects free speech while ensuring that people do not evade existing election laws.
As a member of the bipartisan Freshman Task Force on Campaign Finance Reform, I have had the unique opportunity to work with Republicans and Democrats to develop a consensus on how to bring true reform to campaign financing. Our bill bans "soft money" contributions to political parties and requires any organization to disclose its identity if it spends $25,000 or more in a single Congressional district on advertisements that bear the name or likeness of a particular candidate.
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