The 527 Reform Debate: Quotables

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Apr 05, 2006 3:12 PM

UPDATE: It passed, 218-209. Andy Roth will undoubtedly have follow-up.

If you ever wonder why Congress' approval numbers are so low, look no further than this debate on 527 reform. The flagrant switcheroo (anyone know what the hand signal for that call?) by both parties is just totally transparent. Here are some tidbits I got down. The vote is going on right now.

Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.): The "Common-Sense Closing of a Loophole" Argument

"This bill, H.R. 513, has been endorsed by the reform community, and rightly so."

"It is needed in order to close the loophole that allows both Democrat and Republican 527 groups to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in unregulated soft money to influence elections."

"The soft-money shell game spawned four years ago..."

You know, the soft-money shell-game, which we spawned with that first regulatory law four years ago?

Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.): The "527s Are Already Regulated" Argument

"527s have been legally recognized...for over 30 years."

"Anyone with a computer can go online and see that millionaire Bob Kerrey gave 4.5 million dollars to bankroll the Swift Boat Vet organization. How do I know that?...They have to disclose where they get their money and how they get it."

"This bill is not needed...it's very interesting to see the majority speak in favor of campaign finance reform after they did everything they could to stonewall the Biparisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (BCRA)."

"Unfairly regulating 527s is a step in the wrong direction for political speech."

"In fact, thousands of Americans gave to 527s through small donations...because they believed in the messages of those groups."

"Their voices should not be silenced."

"The American people will not tolerate what is about to happen here."

Doolittle (R-Calif.): The "I Was Against Regulation Before I Was For It" Argument"

"Legislating for partisan gain is all that campaign finance legislation has every been about. Who are we kidding?"

"[With McCain-Feingold]I don't think we got the money out of politics. We just kind of reshuffled the deck chairs."

"What advantage does it serve to move political speech farther and farther from the candidate?"

"The more we move speech away from the candidate, the less accountable the campaigns become and the more negative they become."

"This bill is a reasoned bill...and it's something we should adopt."

"We've got to deregulate political speech...repeal all the limits and have timely reporting and accountability, in the long term. In the short term, support this bill."

Don't ask me. I'm as confused as you are.

Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.): The "Everyone's a Hypocrite But Me" Argument

"I didn't vote for BCRA and I didn't think that was the way to solve the problem, but I accept that it's the law of the land."

"Anyone who voted for BCRA and doesn't vote for this is a hypocrite."

"Anyone on the other side that doesn't recognize that this is a loophole in the law...is missing the point."

Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.): The Right Argument

Flake cites the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 (passed under President John Adams) as an example of use of political power to suppress free speech.

"The First Amendment was written so that citizens are able to protect themselves fromt he govt, not so that the government can protect itself from the people."

"They (501 (c) 4s) will surely become the 527s of 2008."

"Loopholes will always be there because there will always be money in politics."

"Instead of stufling speech and allowing it to go underground...we ought to allow more freedom with more reporting and more transparency." (that last part is paraphrased, but I think it's close)

"Luckily, Americans were smart enough to figure out what President Adams was doing. He was using political power to suppress free speech and the public reacted accordingly."

"Public opposition was so great that that was a large reason Adams was defeated by Jefferson...this, Mr. Speaker, is history worth remembering."