06.28.00

SCHUMER: AMENDMENT CLOSING CAMPAIGN FINANCE DISCLOSURE LOOPHOLE IS "FIRST STEP, BUT WE HAVE 1,000 MILES TO GO"

US Senator Charles E. Schumer made the following statement regarding passage of an amendment to require Section 527 organizations to disclose their contributors

"To the Senator from Arizona as well as the Senator from Wisconsin, kudos on their exemplary leadership on this and the general issue of campaign finance reform, as well as my colleagues from Connecticut, Michigan and Maine who have been such leaders on this.

"Mr. President, Chinese proverb says that a trip of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. This is the first step, but we do have 1,000 miles to go. It's the first step and it's a significant one. Until this proposal becomes law, organized crime, drug lords and other various bottom crawlers in society could influence the political process, unknown to any of us, by contributing money and running ads that we all know are for all practical purposes political ads. To have no disclosure, let alone no limits, on these kinds of activities puts a dagger in the heart of the democracy. Sunlight is the disinfectant provided by this provision. It does no more.

"We have many, many more miles to go. The distinction between hard money and soft money, the fact that these days candidates don't have to worry about the $1,000 limit because soft money is so prevalent and so available and because of, in my judgment, recent misguided Supreme Court decisions that allow political parties to do political ads we all know they're political ads. And simply because they don't say vote for candidate "X," they're not classified as political ads, which makes our system a joke, makes our system a mockery. And what we're doing here is simply returning to the status quo of a year ago before these 527 accounts were found.

"So we have a very long way to go, Mr. President. And the only confidence I have is that we do have leaders like the Senator from Arizona and the Senator from Wisconsin to help us move forward.

"I can say just one thing. If we were to rest on our laurels tonight, if we are to think we've now cleaned up the system because we passed this legislation, we are sadly mistaken. It's very much needed because this is the part of campaign finance that remains under a rock with all the worms and critters crawling undiscovered. But at the same time we need to go much, much farther and I will be glad to follow the banner of Senators McCain and Feingold to try and help make that a reality."

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