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April 5, 1997

Four Possible Routes Toward Campaign Finance Reform

By ADAM CLYMER

In This Article
  • Voluntary Spending Limits
  • Contributions
  • Source of Contributions
  • Soft Money
  • Independent Expenditures
  • Public Financing or Other Assistance
  • Enforcement

    Voluntary Spending Limits

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Senate: $1.5 million to $8.25 million per election cycle (primary plus general)
    House: $600,000 per election cycle
    These limits could be exceeded if an opponent exceeded them.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    No provision.

    DOOLITTLE
    No provision.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    Senate: $1.2 million to $6.6 million per election cycle (primary plus general).
    House: $480,000 per election cycle.
    Could be exceeded if an opponent's spending, plus independent expenditure against the candidate, was125 percent of the limit.

    Contributions

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Individuals and PAC’s may give $1,000 in primary and $1,000 in general elections. Whether they agree to limits or not, no candidate may raise more than 20 percent of the spending limit from PAC’s in House races or 25 percent in Senate races.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    Individuals could give $2,500 or $3,000 in primary and in general election. Individuals could give $25,000 to candidates and $25,000 more to parties. Small donations would be encouraged by a 100% tax credit on the first $100. Present law would govern PAC donations.

    DOOLITTLE
    Repeals all limits on individual and PAC contributions.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    Individual and PAC contribution limits would not change from current law. But candidates abiding by limits and taking public funds may not accept any.

    Source of Contributions

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Senate: 60 percent of all individual contributions must come from in-state residents.
    House: 60 percent of all contributions must come from in-state residents
    Aliens, felons and minors may not contribute. Bundling of multiple contributions collected by PAC’s, corporations, unions, partnerships and lobbyists are essentially prohibited. Overall limit of contributions in a year is raised from $25,000 to $30,000.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    Small in-state contributions encouraged by a television voucher plan above.

    DOOLITTLE
    No provision.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    Noncitizens may not contribute.

    Soft Money

    Large, unregulated contributions to parties from corporations, individuals and unions.

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Banned by requiring national parties to raise and spend only “hard money,” (funds from PAC’s and from individuals) subject to limits. Requires all election year spending, including by local and state parties, that could affect Federal elections (including registration and get out the vote) to be paid in hard money. Bars Federal officeholders and candidates from raising unregulated contributions.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    Prohibits national parties from raising and using soft money.

    DOOLITTLE
    No provisions. Sponsors believe that eliminating all restrictions on contributions to parties and candidates would reduce the use of soft money.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    Banned by requiring national parties to raise and spend only “hard money” (funds from PAC’s and from individuals subject to limits). Requires all election year spending, including local and state parties, that could affect Federal elections (including registration and get out the vote) to be paid in hard money. Bars Federal officeholders and candidates from raising unregulated contributions.

    Independent Expenditures

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Requires prompt reporting and permits candidates to exceed spending limits to reply to attack advertisements. Holds that an expenditure is not independent of a candidate if the person making the expenditure has raised money for the candidate or used the same consultant as the candidate.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    No provision, but parties would no longer need to use them as a subterfuge because existing limits on how much a party could spend to help candidates would be repealed.

    DOOLITTLE
    Public financing for Presidential campaigns, which took effect in 1976, would be repealed.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    No provision.

    Public Financing or Other Assistance

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Senate candidates complying with spending limits, if they have raised 10 percent of state spending limit, qualify for 30 minutes of free, prime-time television on stations in their state or adjacent states (no more than 15 minutes from any one station). Complying House and Senate candidates may also purchase television time at 50 percent of the lowest rate. Senate candidates may send two statewide mailing at third class, nonprofit rates. House candidates may send three district-wide mailings at that rate.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    Creates a “broadcast bank” of free minutes or radio and television time, to be used in increments of 60 seconds or longer, with the candidate required to be in the advertisements. Some will be allocated to the parties. Candidates would also get vouchers for more time for each $25,000 they raise in in-state contributions of $100 or less. Broadcasters would be assessed a fee, in time or minutes, on all political advertising, but the existing provision requiring them to sell time to candidates at low rates would be repealed.

    DOOLITTLE
    No provision, but parties would no longer need to use them as a subterfuge because existing limits on how much a party could spend to help candidates would be repealed.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    House candidates get public financing, up to limits specified above, after receiving 1,000 contributions of $5 from registered voters in the district. Senate candidates must get 1,000 $5 contributions in a state’s first Congressional district and 500 in each additional district. Senate candidates also get 90 minutes of free television time in blocks of 30 seconds to 5 minutes, with no more than 15 minutes from any station. House and Senate candidates can buy additional time at half the lowest rate for 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election.

    Enforcement

    MCCAIN-FEINGOLD
    Enables Federal Election Commission to require electronic filing by candidates, to conduct random audits, and to seek injunctions to bar flagrant violations of law.

    ORNSTEIN & CO.
    Requires prompt electronic filing and prohibits use of contributions where name, address and occupation of donor are not given. Allows candidates to seek injunctions in Federal court instead of waiting for the F.E.C. if delay would cause immediate irreparable harm. Limits commissioners to a single eight-year term instead of multiple six-year terms.

    DOOLITTLE
    Requires daily electronic filing of contributions and expenditures. Prohibits use of contributions where name, address and occupation of donor are not specified. Requires F.E.C. to post all campaign reports on the Internet.

    'CLEAN MONEY CAMPAIGN REFORM'
    Expand F.E.C. to seven members to break deadlocks. Requires prompt electronic filing of contributions and expenditures. Limit commissioners to a single six-year term instead of multiple six-year terms.Permits F.E.C. to conduct random audits, seek injunctions, and appeal to the Supreme Court.




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