U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

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Presidential Financing System | Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act | 527s |
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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 McCain-Feingold.

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.


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