On Thursday, Feb. 14, 2002, at 2:42 a.m., the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Shays-Meehan Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Bill (HR 2356).
The bill is mainly described as a ban on soft money, restricting hard-money donations, and was designed to insulate the system from special-interest donations. In the wake of the crash of Enron, it has brought the issue back onto the political scene.
“I want everyone to feel good about what we’re doing,” said cosponsor Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass.
Apparently, not everyone is feeling good about it. According to reports, the National Rifle Association has threatened to take Shays-Meehan to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
The majority of Americans don’t know what campaign finance reform is all about; many think it’s just about campaign reform and money. They don’t know because there is so much doublespeak and misinformation surrounding it.
So, many are wondering why the NRA would take the bill to the Supreme Court on constitutionality. NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre said, “Shays-Meehan attacks the very heart of the First Amendment. We will fight this infringement right up to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of all Americans.” What does campaign finance reform have to do with the Constitution?
The bill directly prohibits labor unions, corporations and non-profit organizations from running ads mentioning a candidate 60 days prior to an election. This directly assaults our freedom of speech. The Constitution clearly states, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
In the bill summary, it states, “(Sec. 203) Bans disbursements for electioneering communications from union or certain corporate funds, except certain tax-exempt corporations making electioneering communications: 1) paid for exclusively with funds provided directly by individuals who are citizens or permanent resident aliens; and 2) which are not targeted electioneering communications.”
If this isn’t a direct violation of the United States Constitution, I don’t know what is. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said, “This bill does not contain real reform. Instead, this bill strips citizens of their political rights and unconstitutionally attempts to regulate political speech.”
In a democratic-republic, the people, not the politicians, elect the lawmakers and the people have the right to scrutinize politicians. The Shays-Meehan bill decides when and if the people can criticize or speak out against a candidate.
This bill is a prime example of the lies and misinformation of those who wish to destroy our nation. Campaign finance reform is not at all what it’s about; indeed, the bill has so many holes, it’s not funny. But the bill cuts down on our freedom of speech, and that has nothing to do with real reform.
“We have the first real chance in a generation to limit the access of special interests to the political process,” said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. These are the enemies of freedom, who plant half-truths like that concerning a bill of this magnitude.
The House didn’t really want campaign finance reform. They wanted to destroy our freedoms. When an amendment was proposed that cut out all unconstitutional wording of the bill, it was voted down.
On passage, the final votes were 240-189.
Those who voted aye are those representatives who voted against the Constitution and the American people. It is those same people who promised to uphold, defend and protect it. Regardless of whether the president vetoes the bill, it dies in the Senate or the Supreme Court knocks it down, I am extremely disappointed in, and appalled by, the actions of our “so-called” representatives.
I realize many of the votes were political because congressmen can take a lot of heat for voting against a “reform” bill, and many probably assumed the Supreme Court would later strike it down. But I wish our elected representatives had greater principles and stiffer backbones.
While America was asleep, our legislative body violated the Constitution; they cut down on our freedom of speech. If they can do it once, they’ll do it again. So, I encourage you to look over the roll call votes on H.R. 2356 and reconsider your vote for the next House elections.