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Letter to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders on Campaign Finance Reform Legislation

March 15, 2001

Dear __________:

As the Senate prepares to consider campaign finance reform legislation, I wanted to highlight my principles for reform. I am committed to working with the Congress to ensure that fair and balanced campaign finance reform legislation is enacted.

These principles represent my framework for assessing campaign finance reform legislation. I remain open to other ideas to meet our shared goals.

I am hopeful that, working together, we can achieve responsible campaign finance reforms.




Campaign Finance Reform: President Bush's Reform Principles

Protect Rights of Individuals to Participate in Democracy: President Bush believes democracy is first and foremost about the rights of individuals to express their views. He supports strengthening the role of individuals in the political process by: 1) updating the limits established more than twodecades ago on individual giving to candidates and national parties; and 2) protecting the rights of citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy.

Maintain Strong Political Parties: President Bush believes political parties play an essential role in making America's democratic system operate. He wants to maintain the strength of parties, and not to weaken them. Any reform should help political parties more fully engage citizens in the political process and encourage them to express their views and to vote.

Ban Corporate and Union Soft Money: Corporations and labor unions spend millions of dollars every election cycle in unregulated "soft" money to influence federal elections. President Bush supports a ban on unregulated corporate and union contributions of soft money to political parties.

Eliminate Involuntary Contributions: President Bush believes no one should be forced to support a candidate or cause against his or her will. He therefore supports two parallel reforms: 1) legislation to prohibit corporations from using treasury funds for political activity without the permission of shareholders; and 2) legislation to require unions to obtain authorization from each dues-paying worker before spending those dues on activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

Require Full and Prompt Disclosure: President Bush also believes that in an open society, the best safeguard against abuse is full disclosure. He supports full, prompt and constitutionally permissible disclosure of contributions and expenditures designed to influence the outcome of federal elections, so voters will have complete and timely information on which to make informed decisions.

Promote Fair, Balanced, Constitutional Approach: President Bush believes reform should not favor any one party over another or incumbents over challengers. Both corporations and unions should be prohibited from giving soft money to political parties, and both corporations and unions should have to obtain permission from their stockholders or dues-paying workers before spending treasury funds or dues on politics. President Bush supports including a nonseverability provision, so if any provision of the bill is found unconstitutional, the entire bill is sent back to Congress for further adjustments and deliberations. This provision will ensure fair and balanced campaign finance reform.

NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Trent Lott, Senate majority leader, and Thomas A. Daschle, Senate minority leader, and copies of the letter were provided to all other Senators.

George W. Bush, Letter to the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders on Campaign Finance Reform Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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