Washington's Other Scandal | frontline online
navigation, see belowJoin the Discussion: What are your views on the fundamental issues of money in politics -  and the abuses in the 1996 election campaign?  We invite you to share your thoughts here.

white house & people


As a federal employee, one of the first things impressed upon us relates to this very issue. Not only are we instructed that it is unlawful to accept favors from those in the public sector, we are also instructed that we should seriously consider whether our actions would give the impression that we might be doing this. Apparently some of our "leaders" are not privvy to this same training.

Indeed, in the words of the highly respected Trent Lott, when asked for his thoughts on campaign finance reform, "I wish people could give more."

Sadly, I, too, wish people could give more. More thought, more discussion, and more care in the selection of their country's leaders. When this happens we may see a return to leadership at almost all levels. Alas, however, they may have to remove the "For Sale" signs from in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and the Capitol Building.

nevada, ia


I have been a Clinton supporter through thick and thin. I deplore the sex scandal expose which has been going on these past months. I detest the do-nothing Congress and its obvious political agenda. The people of this country have long been forgotten. The Frontline piece adds fuel to the fire, and has lessened my opinion of Bill Clinton in a way that no amount of exposure of his sexual indescretions could. Both parties are completely without moral values, and their lack of interest in the welfare of our country is painfully apparent. Yes, I realise, each will say that they must conduct their campaigns like this because the other does, and they will insist they deplore having to do so. Money runs the land. Money runs everything. Until the people can stand up and make themselves heard, all this will continue. Where is the usually self-rightous main-stream press, by the way? Chasing sex scandal stories and unsubstantiated rumors? Money again. I have respected Bill Moyers for years, and will gladly vote for him should he decide to run for anything.

Barbara Bumgardner
guthrie, ok


Thank you for the report; I believe it to be fair and informative, and frightening. It adds to my cynicism, which I believe to be fully justified. I have long been interested in politics and always look for the sponsorship of any political ads I see or hear. Bogus double-speak usually come through in the names chosen to represent various causes. Anytime I see an obviously expensive ad shown often, I'll ask where is the money coming from to show me this and who does it benefit? If Americans became more critical and distrustful of the TV campaign ads maybe politicians wouldn't be so addicted to raising money for them. Perhaps in addition to naming the organization that sponsors an ad, the cost of producing and running that ad should be required to be shown. Maybe it would make someone think twice about supporting that particular cause or viewpoint. If there are massive amounts of money available to persuade voters, maybe there are massive amounts of money available to solve problems.

Julie Chandler
imperial, ne


RI was appalled, disgusted and sick to my stomach when I went to bed last night after watching Frontline. We can each of us send our comments in to PBS but if that is all that we do, we've accomplished nothing of significance.

There are two things we can do to ameliorate this horrid situation.

1) we can each and every one of us vote (we'd be much more of a democracy if voting were mandatory here as it is in Australia)...then politicians would have to listen to us rather than pander to special interests as much as they do.

2) we desperately need campaign finance reform! And the only way we can get this is if we vote out of office each and every politician who refuses to pass strong campaign finance reform legislation. This legislation must include VERY large fines for individuals and organisations who break the new laws and IMMEDIATE removal from office of politicians who violate the laws.

How do we organise ourselves to get the word out to every single American citizen so that we can accomplish these steps? Any ideas out there?

Lin Zucconi
truckee, ca


I watched with great interest your program on campaign finance and our present-day political influence machinery. It was quite refreshing in light of current "editorializing" reporting of the "news" that we are subjected to daily to find a program that looks candidly at an issue, presenting information rather than opinion.

Like others who watched, I am sure, I was saddened by our system of purchasing of influence (though it was not new information to me)--however, your program reinforced my conviction that we must strongly push for action on campaign finance and term limits.

I don't believe our forefathers expected politics to be a career track as it is today--rather it was meant to be a means by which people of character could contribute and work to improve the quality of life for the citizens in their community and country.

Keep up the good work!

Pam Hames
kennewick, washington


I feel naive, stupid and outraged after watching Frontline tonight. The money collusion of TV media, Ad and political consultants, PAC money, shell funnel companies is way over the top even for America, a country that loves going way over the top.

In a wierd way Bill Moyers' Frontline tonight puts the Lewinski deal in perspective; I see a president so steeped in slime, fawning over the rich, unleashing high level staff to shake down Indian Tribes, indeed -the entire republic - all in the name of reelection - that the awkward and playful moments he spent with Lewinski must have been his only bright and meaningful spots in an dark and lonely life.

Evven so, whatever sympathy I had for Clinton is long long gone after tonight's program.

D. Anderson
seattle, wa


Thank you for the peak behind the curtain of Washington politics. If this is the "best" our system has to offer... Perhaps we should invite all elected officials to go home, hold a lottery from the general population, have an election from those selected, and let ordinary folks run things for a while. We would then truly have a government "of the people." How bad could it be? Certainly not the snake pit we now have!

P.S. Give the Indians back their land NOW!!

Claudia Leithe
santa rosa, ca.


What is disturbing to me is that this Other Scandal information was available when the digital broadcast spectrum was given away by Congress last year. Yet we couldn't even get a law passed to give mandatory free air time to candidates in exchange for the $Trillions (that's 100 BGs or Bill Gates fortunes) that this asset of ours was worth. I'd like to hope this program is a wake-up alarm.

Thank you and Bill Moyers.

Arthur Jonath
portola valley, ca


So what do we do next? Having actually listened and learned more information in one hour of television than weeks, nay months, than what I've taken in from the newspaper, public radio and the Web, I'm ready to take action. Rather than bog down in "damn politicians are nothing but crooks" I want to use the power of my vote and my voice to get change a campaign system that requires millions of dollars to reach the voting public. The attorney for the Oklahoma tribe described it well, the mic is only handed to those will the money. And that includes the media companies that continue to profit from local, state and national campaign ad buys. I hope everyone writing tonight takes action tomorrow.

seattle, wa


Dear Frontline:

After watching the program on Campaign contributions my first reaction was disgust and a feeling of powerlessness. Then your invitation to get on the net and express my views mobilized my anger and thoughts that if enough of us protest and INSIST on reform it can happen. I realize that the power of men like Landau is built on the silence of the masses and if enough of us begin speaking out and voting out the bought candidates, we can change the system. We are after all still a democracy with the right to speak out and demand change.

Jennifer Hall
ashland, or


I have to agree with the Canadian's method (previously viewed here), as it is much more gentlemenly to allow other to give their opinions. Perhaps for the sake of argument, it could prove the other man's case.

Frankly, though I feel that the "Other Scandal" in Washington, may be as old as the amendment to the Constitution that conceded to party politics in the election of the President and Vice-President. It was possible before then to have a Vice-President with a much differnt view on matters to check and perhaps investigate the President or other parts of the administration, if necessary, in secret. As I understand it, South Africa's constitution, which has multiple Vice-Presidents of several parties, returns this potential to one democratic government. (The diamond mine owners may need it badly to call to ethical practices. They will earn their place in that society someway.)

Gregory Mellott
paonia, co


As an elected Republican official I was shocked and sickened at the misuse of the system by bothe parties. They officials interviewed have sold out thier souls, rationalized their deads in the persuit of money and power. Our nation is weaker for all of them. As we can see we were well served by Clinton being elected. Would be have been any better with Mr. Dole? I doubt it. This kind of access by money only was not what our founding fathers had in mind.

Thomas Honl
astoria, oregon


Dear Frontline, I am a working blue color guy that felt his vote counted until this show. I feel deep empathy for the American Indians, but they had 87,000 dollars. How will my voice be heard when all I can do is support my canadate with 32 dollars for mailing stamps? This White House and Harold Ickes is with out shame, but the Republicans are not without blame.

phoenix, arizona


While watching your program on the selling of influence, I recalled something I read recently; to paraphrase--"if a man has no integrity, why ask him what he believes?" It is no surprise that we are such uninformed voters when the candidate's "belief" today is what was paid for last nite.

richardson, texas


To say the Frontline report on campaign abuses was excellent doesn't do it justice.

Many others have already described our feelings of frustration and anger after watching the report. We were upset that some only looked for bias, that others saw only those things they wanted to see. If we are to have campaign finance reform, it will only come by all voters ignoring their bias in a united front against those that are abusing the system.

For our part, we are writing Janet Reno requesting appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate "Campaign Finance Abuses" of both the DNC, the RNC, and the various candidates in the last election.

Frontline has guaranteed our continued financial support of PBS.

Ron & Carole Bower
carthage, il


Watching BILL MOYERS program was at the least upsetting, disturbing and appalling. I practiced law for 25 years prior to becoming clergy. I saw the same type of thing in the " selling of justice". Part of my clergy duties include working the the legislature to protect and preserve rights for ALL people. I guess I knew what was going on but seeing the show tonite removed any illusion. I was a history major in college, I taught in law school-- I now feel it is all fraudulent. I am committed to non-violence. I give sermons, talks and workshops against violence. My ministry includes talking with gangs and gangleaders. Being aware of the selling of democracy, watching how the Indian Tribe was treated, it makes me wonder how any of the disenfranchised remain non-violent.

Reverend George Brooks
flossmoor, il.


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