Financing System | Bipartisan
Campaign Finance Reform Act | 527s
Senate Campaign Disclosure
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Finance Reform Main | Timeline
Because it costs so much to run for office,
interests with big money to contribute to candidates or spend
on ad campaigns are able to get special access in Congress.
Campaign finance laws on the books are supposed to limit the
power of wealthy interests, but the search for ever-increasing
sums of money to finance campaigns has led politicians and
both parties to stretch the rules and create new loopholes
– not to mention promoting legislation that serves wealthy
interests rather than ordinary Americans.
Throughout my career in the U.S. Senate, I have pushed initiatives
that would help bring more Americans into the political process
rather than wealthy interests having all the say. Perhaps
the most well known reform effort I’ve worked on is the Bipartisan
Campaign Reform Act, better known as McCain-Feingold, which
I worked with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to pass. In 2002,
Congress passed our bill effectively banning the biggest loophole
in our campaign finance system – unlimited soft money contributions
from corporations, unions, or wealthy individuals.
While the recent Wisconsin Right to Life decision
is disappointing, McCain-Feingold is alive and well. The primary
purpose and achievement of McCain-Feingold was to ban unlimited
“soft money” contributions. The Supreme Court’s decision in
WRTL left this central provision of McCain-Feingold
intact. The ban was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 2003
McConnell decision; it is being enforced, and remains
in effect. Learn more about
impact of the Wisconsin Right to Life decision on
The McCain-Feingold legislation was a milestone for campaign
finance reform, but there is much work to be done. We need
to move toward public financing of congressional elections,
fix our presidential public financing system, close the 527
loophole created by federal regulators, require electronic
disclosure of Senate campaign finance reports, and much more.
This section of my website is dedicated to my efforts to level
the campaign playing field and improve our democratic system.