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"There are strict laws limiting campaign advertisements that say to vote for or against a candidate. But there are far less controls on issue ads that say virtually the same thing, yet merely stop short of using the word "vote."

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Campaign Poster
2.14.03
Politics and Economy:
What Money Buys
More on This Story:
Campaign Finance Files

On March 2002 the U.S. Senate passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Bill. It's the biggest reform of the nation's campaign finance system since the days of Watergate. Its highlight: a total ban on the large, unregulated donations to the national Republican and Democratic parties known as soft money

Almost immediately, opponents of the new law sued to have it declared unconstitutional, saying it violated the right of big donors to freely participate in politics. That case is now headed to the Supreme Court. (Read McConnell v. FEC.)

What's grabbed people's attention about this case aren't the big constitutional issues, it's some of the evidence that's been submitted in court. That evidence? Internal documents from the Republican and Democratic parties — including personal letters and emails which show party officials routinely discussing policy issues and offering access to elected officials in obtaining large contributions. About 100 pages of those documents have been released so far. Many more remain secret because of the objections of some of those named in the case. But even the few that are available have been enough to cause a stir.

View the documents featured in NOW's report below:

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  • Ohio Republican Party Memo re: Miller Valentine Group, October 9, 1997 (PDF)

  • Ohio Republican Party, Team Ohio Program Benefits (PDF)

  • Ohio Republican Party, Why People Give (PDF)

  • Republican National Committee (RNC), Team 100 call sheet to former ConAgra Chairman Phil Fletcher, June 12, 2000 (PDF)

  • RNC, Team 100 call sheet for U.E. Patrick of Patrick Petroleum, September 25, 2000 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo from Henry Barbour re: Dow Chemical contribution (PDF)

  • Memo to from William Carey to James Nicholson RNC Chairman, November 5, 1999 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo to Lod Cook, Co-Chairman of Global Crossing, April 18, 2000 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo from Lod Cook, Co-Chairman of Global Crossing, re: Governor Ryan, August 11, 1999 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo to Phil Anschutz of the Anschutz Corporation re: contribution, October 23, 1998 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo from Henry Barbour to Louis Bacon re: Mexican Peso (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo from Henry Barbour re: Dole and Gingrich contacts (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo re: Louis Bacon of Moore: Capital Management and contact with Senator Dole, March 2, 1995 (PDF)

  • Letter to Rep. Tom Delay from Edwin Lupberger, Chairman, Entergy, March 14, 1996 (PDF)

  • Letter from Edison Electric Institute to Haley Barbour, RNC, February 29, 1996 (PDF)

  • Letter from Vice Chairman, New York Life to Haley Barbour, RNC, September 17, 1006 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo from Sam Fox to Tim Barnes, July 10, 1995 (PDF)

  • RNC, Memo to Charles Heimbold, Chairman, Bristol-Myers, April 9, 1999 (PDF)

  • RNC, List of attendees at a healthcare: executive meeting (PDF)

  • RNC, Letter from Leon Hirsch to Alfred Hoffman, February 23, 2001 (PDF)

  • Democratic National Committee (DNC), Fundraising call list (PDF)

  • DNC, Fundraising call list (PDF)

  • DNC, Finance Call Sheet for Texaco, November 10, 1995 (PDF)

  • DNC, Finance Call Sheet for BP, November 13, 1995 (PDF)

  • DNC, Finance Call Sheet or Panhandle Eastern, November 14, 1995 (PDF)

  • DNC, Finance Call Sheet or Glaxo, November 13, 1995 (PDF)

  • Letter from Mitch McConnell, Chair, National Republican Senatorial Committee, May 27, 1999 (PDF)

  • Letter from Mitch McConnell, Chair, National Republican Senatorial Committee, July 28, 1999 (PDF)

  • Letter from Mitch McConnell, Chair, National Republican Senatorial Committee, August 30, 1999 (PDF)

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