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Greens Declare Corporate Money the Big Winner in 2002 Elections.

For immediate release: Thursday, February 5, 2003

Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator, 207-326-4576, 
Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, 

Campaign financing reforms undermined by increasing FEC loopholes, Democratic Party chair McAuliffe's dismissal of public financing for campaigns, say Greens.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Latest figures from the FEC show that the biggest determinant of whether a candidate won in 2002 fall elections was not their position on the issues, but the amount of money spent on their campaign, said Greens. The Green Party of the United States supports 'Clean Money, Clean Elections' -- public campaign financing, especially for congressional elections.

Data from candidates on contributions through Oct. 16, 2002 posted at the Center for Responsive Politics show that out of 445 house races, over 90% of the winners outspent the losers, with 299 winning candidates outspending their opponents by 10 to 1. Only 14 candidates who spent less than their opponents won.

"These figures prove how important it is for a dramatic overhaul of our election system and highlights the need for public financing of campaigns," said Ben Manski, member of the national Steering Committee of the Green Party of the United States and a Green from Wisconsin -- Sen. Russell Feingold's home state.

"Otherwise, politicians with campaign coffers full of corporate money will continue to win. It's no longer a contest between political ideas and qualifications for public office. Instead, Election Day is when corporate lobbies defeat democracy."

Greens note that Democratic Party national chair Terry McAuliffe has urged Democrats to reject public financing for their campaigns (reported by the Associate Press on January 31).

"Terry McAuliffe, veteran raiser of corporate money and defender of corporate lobbyists' influence over the Democratic Party, made it clear that his party isn't interested in reforming our corrupted elections," said New Jersey State Assembly member Matt Ahearn. 

Ahearn, who represents the 38th District (Bergen County), switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Green on January 24, citing the influence of corporate lobby money in the State House. "I learned on the inside that there were two reasons to get on a bill. One is because voters like it and it won't hurt the major contributors, the other is because you can get press hits for introducing what the voters want, then sit on the bill and quietly take credit for that with the lobbyists." Ahearn called these tactics "government by press release" and "bill squatting."

Democrats and Republicans on the Federal Election Commission are dismantling piece by piece the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill passed in 2002 to regulate soft money contributions and issue ads. The FEC has created loopholes that, among other things: 

  • allow state and local parties to raise unlimited soft money for ads that promote or attack parties in federal elections.

  • allow federal officeholders to participate in state and local fundraisers raising soft money, as long as they don't technically "ask" for it. 

  • allow national parties to use independent committees to raise unlimited soft money with no disclosure as long as the committee was set up by November 6, 2002. 

In December, the FEC adopted a regulation allowing special interests to pay the cost of a commercial for a federal candidate - as long as the ad runs at least 120 days before the primary or general election and doesn't explicitly advocate a candidate's election or defeat.

"Now that campaign reform is no longer in the spotlight, Dems and Repubs are making a mockery of the bill they supported," said Pete Looker, a certified chimney sweep, who recently ran for State Assembly in Saratoga County, New York on a platform of making a clean sweep on campaign financing. 

The Green Party of the United States accepts no contributions from corporations and political action committees and accepts contributions from individuals only up to $10,000 per year, half of what is permitted by law.

"We support full public financing of elections, free air time, and mail under reasonable conditions for every qualified candidate so that political debate, public policy, and legislation can be judged on its merits, not on the quid pro quo of political barter and money," said Jo Chamberlain, California Green and member of the party's national Steering Committee. "These measures are the only way to ensure that national, state, and local challenges will be addressed according to the needs of people and the health of our environment."

The Green Party of the United States 
National office: 1314 18th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN

Matt Ahearn, New Jersey State Assembly District 38 
(201) 261-8228 

Center for Responsive Politics 

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