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A selection of recent opinion pieces and editorials from The Washington Post.

More Washington Post editorials, opinion piece and letters about campaign finance from the past month.

Back to Soft Money
September 4, 1998
The prudent response to the ambiguity over soft money – and the one Ms. Reno has taken to date – is to refuse to invoke the independent counsel statute. What is needed, rather, is action by Congress to strengthen the law, combined with civil enforcement by the FEC to clarify the existing rules. – Editorial

Mr. Gore's Phone Calls – Again
August 28, 1998
Mr. Gore could well be safe from further trouble on the question of which phone can be used to raise what money from whom. But the issue of lying to investigators is never trivial. – Editorial

A Chance For Campaign Reform, August 17, 1998
The significant House vote cannot be allowed to become just a gesture. The Senate's task is to ensure that this achievement of the House becomes a step toward campaign finance reform. – Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Walter F. Mondale

Good Vote on Campaign Reform, August 7, 1998
The vote in the House for campaign finance reform was impressive, the more so because it occurred over the opposition of the Republican leadership. – Editorial

Mr. Burton and Ms. Reno, August 7, 1998
Ms. Reno has not said enough in explanation of her position on the independent counsel question, but her refusal to turn over the memoranda is correct. – Editorial

A Chance For Campaign Reform, July 27, 1998
Why is it that in a sluggish legislative session, the one issue that has stayed alive despite numerous setbacks, procedural muggings and visits to the respirator is – campaign reform? – E. J. Dionne Jr.

Back to Campaign Finance, July 27, 1998
It is long past time to for the House leadership to allow a vote on campaign finance reform. – Editorial

Independent Counsel Revisited, July 26, 1998
Dissent regarding Janet Reno's refusal to invoke the independent counsel law in the 1996 campaign finance imbroglio has reached critical mass. – Editorial

Not a Danger to Free Speech, July 14, 1998
The McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan legislation contains no prohibition on speech, just a modest effort to improve disclosure and to strengthen the implementation of current law. – Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

A Reform That Endangers Free Speech, July 6, 1998
Measures such as McCain-Feingold or Shays-Meehan would constitute a wholesale breach of First Amendment rights and ignore the real-world impact of limits on speech. – Nadine Strossen, Ira Glasser and Laura W. Murphy

A Reform That Endangers Free Speech, June 19, 1998
A group of luminaries from the American Civil Liberties Union has broken with the organization's opposition to the principles underlying the bill. – E. J. Dionne Jr.

Campaign Reformers at War, May 20, 1998
The folks with the deepest commitment to cleaning up the campaign finance laws of this country are about to squander the best opportunity they've had in a long time – David S. Broder


Hypocrites and Soft Money, May 18, 1998
The House should pass Shays-Meehan without disfiguring amendments, send it back to the Senate and see what happens. – Editorial

Let the Cash Flow, May 12, 1998
Campaign finance reform is alive and kicking -- and if it passes, it will make a bloody mess of the First Amendment to the Constitution. – James K. Glassman

Run for the Money, May 7, 1998
The Supreme Court's decision vesting money with First Amendment rights has made it impossible to craft effective reforms based on a system of public financing. – Joseph A. Califano Jr.

McConnell and Lautenberg on Campaign Finance, March 1, 1998
Excerpts from the last campaign finance debate before the McCain-Feingold bill was defeated, in which Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) explained his strong opposition to the bill and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) his strong support.

The Wit but Not the Will, March. 1, 1998
The defeat of campaign finance reform in the Senate -- a moderate bill that had majority support but not the three-fifths necessary to overcome a filibuster by the Republican leadership itself -- was a failure of the legislative process. – Editorial

The FEC and Soft Money, Feb. 17, 1998
The Federal Election Commission has considered a remarkable proposal by FEC General Counsel Lawrence Noble that would, if adopted, effectively ban the national party committees from raising soft money. This bold administrative remedy the FEC staff has suggested ought to resonate deeply in the debate over campaign finance reform. – Editorial

Mr. Trie's Return, Feb. 5, 1998
The surprise surrender of Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie to federal authorities should provide a real shot in the arm to the Justice Department's much-criticized campaign finance task force. – Editorial

Risks of Enactment, Dec. 8, 1997
The Senate has agreed to cast an up-or-down vote next spring on what remains of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. The basic provision in this remnant is a good idea. But it makes no sense to pass a law and turn a blind eye to its all-but-certain evasion all in the same stroke. – Editorial

The Law's Intent Was Lost In Reno Fund-Raising Probe, Dec. 7, 1997
Politicians and the news media should refrain from promoting the notion that the law against fund-raising conducted on federal property or by federal employees is meaningless and unenforceable. – Bob Dahl

Reno's Brave Decision, Dec. 5, 1997
If Attorney General Janet Reno had called for an independent counsel to investigate President Clinton and Vice President Gore for the 1996 campaign abuses, she could have washed her hands of the whole mess. – E. J. Dionne Jr.

The Independent Counsel Decision, Dec. 4, 1997
Attorney General Janet Reno has, once again, declined to seek an independent counsel to investigate the Clinton administration's campaign finance behavior. Despite the highly critical response of many Republicans and others, we think she did the right and reasonable thing. – Editorial

Soft Money, No Crime?, Nov. 27, 1997
Janet Reno is apparently prepared to say, in essence, that the allegations at hand are too small and narrow to merit prosecution. You don't have to admire her integrity, but you must marvel at her nerve. – Michael Lewis

Campaign Finance: The Anonymous Donor Plan, Nov. 3, 1997
We can be pretty confident that today's politicians know full well whom they're beholden to. It's only the public that's getting shut out – thus the appeal of an anonymous campaign donations. – Fred Hiatt

Better Than an Independent Counsel, Oct. 31, 1997
There are so many subscandals coming out of the Democrats' campaign-finance scandal that it is hard to keep track without a scorecard. Here's a scorecard. – Charles Krauthammer

Clinton's Legacy, Oct. 30, 1997
The Clinton White House has destroyed the liberal-moralist tradition that the truth must be discovered and the law must be upheld. – Michael Kelley

Band of Cynics, Oct. 28, 1997
As long as Republicans profess to be outraged by Clinton while refusing to change a system that made the outrages possible, their charges will be viewed, deservedly, as cynical. – E.J. Dionne, Jr.

Accused Of Loading The Dice, Oct. 27, 1997
If the fate of a failing dog track in western Wisconsin was too trivial for Harold Ickes, you have to ask why President Clinton himself got involved. – Fred Hiatt

Let the Sun Shine In, Oct. 17, 1997
How to eliminate corruption without curtailing political speech? It cannot be done. – Charles Krauthammer

Ms. Reno's Testimony, Oct. 17, 1997
Janet Reno did a fairly creditable job of defending her position with regard to the naming of an independent counsel to investigate campaign fund-raising. But she bears an extra burden of proof if she decides not to seek an independent counsel. – Editorial

A Scandal Crossing Party Lines . . ., Oct. 13, 1997
The truly serious scandal is the deliberate evasion by both the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets of federal spending and contribution limits. – Mark Shields

Getting Nowhere on Campaign Finance Reform, Oct. 12, 1997
The lesson of this latest legislative fiasco is that Congress will not cure what ails the campaign finance system. – David Broder

Reno's Humiliation, Oct. 10, 1997
Was the whole enterprise illegal? That is what we have special prosecutors for. – Charles Krauthammer

'Mr. President . . . This Is Your Campaign', Oct. 8, 1997
Mr. President, I would suggest this is your campaign. This is your White House. And you have a responsibility. I would call on you to encourage these people to come forward and testify and to do as you've done before – call for an independent counsel yourself. – Fred Thompson

Moderates To the Rescue?, Oct. 7, 1997
Moderate Republicans have traditionally been reformers who fought for clean government. Now, they can preserve that tradition by voting against Trent Lott's proposed amendment the McCain-Feingold bill. – E.J. Dionne, Jr.

Giving Good Faith a Bad Name, Oct. 7, 1997
The attitude of the Clinton White House toward the truth whenever it is in trouble is the same. Don't tell it, or tell only as much of it as you absolutely must, or as helps. – Editorial

Campaign Finance: A 'Poison Pill' . . ., Oct. 5, 1997
Conservatives claim to have found a new weapon for their arsenal – a device to disarm labor unions and put Democrats on the defensive. But it is a weapon that can produce a dangerous backlash. – David S. Broder

. . . And the Power of the Ballot, Oct. 5, 1997
If Congress does not act now to stem the massive flow of soft money, Americans' cynicism and mistrust of government will only increase. And that step is only the beginning of needed fundamental reform. – Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford

A Giant Step for Justice, Oct. 5, 1997
The Justice investigation has been clumsy and weak. What Attorney General Janet Reno now has is time and an outside chance to change that perception. – Editorial


When Pigs Can Fly, Oct. 3, 1997
The problem with campaign finance reform schemes is the difficulty of deciding what ought to be forbidden. Would a ban on "soft money" eliminate the problem? It's hard to see how. – William Raspberry

A Dose of Real Reform . . ., Oct. 1, 1997
The most useful byproduct of the deepening money-and-politics scandal would be a dose of real reform. The risk, however, is that the scandal will just deteriorate into a partisan vendetta. – Robert Kuttner

Reno's Burden, Sept. 30, 1997
The issue of whether Attorney General Janet Reno should recommend an independent counsel to investigate fund-raising by President Clinton and Vice President Gore is hopelessly ensnared in politics, weird legal interpretations and Washington power games. – E. J. Dionne Jr.

Who Needs an Independent Counsel, Sept.23, 1997
There is something downright absurd about marshaling the Justice Department and then maybe an independent counsel to look into whether Clinton and Gore actually asked someone somewhere to make a political donation. – Richard Cohen

Bungled So Far, Sept. 23, 1997
Janet Reno says the Justice Department deserves the public's confidence. But that confidence has to be earned, and on the issue of campaign finance, it has been dissipated instead. – Editorial

Courting Worse Trouble, Sept.21, 1997
A slightly retooled version of the McCain-Feingold bill could solve the most urgent of the current campaign finance problems without impinging on the First Amendment. – Editorial

Campaign Finance Overkill, Sept. 19, 1997
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearings make me a little uneasy. The prospect of an independent counsel investigation, given the tendency of those things to get out of hand, is positively chilling. – William Raspberry

'Girl Scout's' Honor, Sept. 19, 1997
Sheila Heslin, a former National Security Council aide, asked some good questions, for which there are still no answers. – Editorial

The Gore Case: Klutziness Is No Crime, Sept. 18, 1997
The rush of opinion that an independent counsel should be appointed to investigate the fund-raising phone calls Vice President Al Gore made from the White House is ill-considered and even dangerous. – Elizabeth Drew

A Marriage on the Hill?, Sept. 16, 1997
Laboring away on one part of Capitol Hill is an investigating committee demonstrating that something is badly defective about the way politicians raise money for their campaigns. But on the part of Capitol Hill where laws are passed, there's nothing – yet. – E.J. Dionne Jr.

The Gore Story, Sept. 7, 1997
Poor Al Gore. He had spent his political life as the good and solid Mr. Clean too boring to be scandalous. Now, he seems even more threatened by the fund-raising mess than Clinton. – E.J. Dionne Jr.

Back to the Thompson Hearings, Sept. 3, 1997
Don't look for crimes, watch for patterns. Don't look for new techniques but variations on old ones, and quantum leaps. Don't look for news, look for information. – Elizabeth Drew

All in the Name of Campaign Reform, Aug. 29, 1997
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee recently issued 26 subpoenas to a broad spectrum of citizens' groups and unions. The subpoenas pose a substantial threat to the free speech and free association rights of these groups and invade their right of privacy. – James Bopp Jr.

The Government Store, Aug. 27, 1997
Our knowledge of the Selling of the Presidency, 1996, continues to grow. It's a depressing, squalid record. The office has been demeaned. – Editorial

Unless We Ban Soft Money, Aug. 10, 1997
There is no way to stop foreign interests from injecting campaign contributions of $100,000 or $1 million or more into our national elections. No way, that is, unless we shut down the political party "soft money" system. – Fred Wertheimer

Both Ways on Campaign Finance, Aug. 7, 1997
The politicians keep trying to have it both ways on campaign finance. The president is in the lead. – Editorial

Congress Can Reform – Honest, Aug. 4, 1997
A task force of Republican and Democratic freshmen spent five months working across party and ideological lines to hammer out the Bipartisan Campaign Integrity Act of 1997. – Asa Hutchinson and Tom Allen

The Exploits of Charlie Trie, Aug. 3, 1997
It's time, past time, that Congress begin to clean up this system that has been so cynically exploited by all, and in particular by this White House. – Editorial

Pared-Down Reform, July 27, 1997
When it comes to campaign finance reform, there is growing agreement that less may do more. – David S. Broder

Campaign Finance: Fix It, July 18, 1997
Our Open Letter to the President and Congress recommends four areas in which to begin, without delay, the task of ensuring that our nation's campaign finance system serves, rather than undermines, the interests of American democracy. – Nancy Kassebaum Baker and Walter F. Mondale

Muzzling 'Soft Money', June 8, 1997
President Clinton wants the Federal Election Commission to ban "soft money" from politics. That perfectly encapsulates today's Washington, where Democrats and Republicans are imaginative only about their plans for vastly extending government regulation of America's most fundamental freedom, political speech. – George F. Will

Skirting the Real Scandal, April 21, 1997
The basic problem is that the cost of conducting a campaign for federal office has been bid up to a point that is destructive of the very democratic process it is said to represent. The cost at both the congressional and presidential levels is obscene. – Editorial

Air Time in the Bank, April 2, 1997
A national political broadcast time bank would cut sharply the cost of campaigns and make politics more competitive and candidates more accountable. – Paul Taylor

A Gourmet's Guide to the Campaign Finance Stew, March 23, 1997
It's important to distinguish the simply tacky from the extremely tacky from the truly offensive, the ethically questionable from the possibly illegal from the flat-out wrong. – Elizabeth Drew

Campaign Reform Maze, March 23, 1997
One door to reforming the campaign finance system was closed last week, but another, more promising one was pushed further open. – David S. Broder

Limits for Soft Money, March 19, 1997
Contrary to George F. Will's suggestion, the Constitution grants no right to buy an election or conceal from the voters who is paying for campaign ads. – Russell D. Feingold

Campaign Finance Reform Won't Work, March 18, 1997
Practically all proper-thinking pundits and politicians say they want to reform the campaign finance system. But would such changes slow the flood of money to politicians? Not on your life. – James K. Glassman

The Independent Counsel Issue, March 16, 1997
Attorney General Janet Reno says the conditions that would require the naming of an independent counsel in the case of the fund-raising for the president's reelection campaign have yet to be met. On the basis of what is known today, an argument can be made that Ms. Reno is right. – Editorial

A Scary Indifference, March 15, 1997
It scares me that so many people have become blase about behavior that once would have been considered scandalous – and that our children, so alert to the personal affront, seem incapable of moral indignation. – William Raspberry

Proud of Their Fund-Raising Prowess, March 12, 1997
The reality is that most incumbents of both parties – for all that they may whine about the burden of fund-raising – prefer the system under which they were elected to any untested scheme that might replace it.
David S. Broder

Gore's Meltdown, March 7, 1997
"Controlling legal authority." Whatever other legacies Al Gore leaves behind between now and retirement, he forever bequeaths this newest weasel word to the lexicon of American political corruption.
Charles Krauthammer

Proud of What He's Stopped Doing, March 5, 1997
Regarding this administration, what has been said of promises may be true as well of many laws and norms: They observe the ones they want to observe. – George F. Will

The Vice President's Role, March 4, 1997
We have no illusions about what the office of vice president demands of its holders. But the vice president of the United States ought not be hustling donors over the phones. – Editorial

Reforming Free Speech Away, March 2, 1997
Under McCain-Feingold, speech regulation could be triggered by the bureaucracy's surmise that the communicator wanted to influence voters. – George F. Will

The Price of 'Access', March 2, 1997
What remains unclear is what the favorite journalistic word "access" means to Clinton, or to other pols. – David S. Broder

A Thousand Friends, Feb. 28, 1997
Richard Nixon was laid low by his enemies list. How fitting that Bill Clinton should be laid low by his friends list. – Charles Krauthammer

Soft Money: The 'Reform' That Corrupted the System, Nov. 3, 1996
The fund-raising device known as "soft money" – unlimited funds that individuals, businesses and labor unions can contribute to campaigns – has a curious origin. – Elizabeth Drew

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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