June 29, 2005

TO: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
FROM: Kay J. Maxwell, President
RE: H.R. 1316, Repeal of Campaign Finance Limitations

The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to oppose H.R. 1316. The legislation, reported by the House Administration Committee, is a dangerous retreat to the days of huge special interest contributions to office holders, candidates and the political parties.

H.R. 1316 repeals fundamental protections to our election process put into place by the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1974 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. These landmark reforms were hard-won responses to the Watergate scandals and the fundraising abuses of the 1990s. They were accomplished through years of citizen action. Americans do not want to give wealth and special interests more access to power. American citizens want more reform, not a retreat from anti-corruption safeguards.

Under the guise of reform, H.R. 1316, the so-called “527 Fairness Act of 2005,” instead would roll back important safeguards. H.R. 1316 lifts the ceiling on individual contributions -- allowing upwards of $3 million to be given by a single individual -- and invites the corrupting influence of enormous campaign contributions back into elections. Members of Congress, the President and federal candidates could solicit these huge contributions and direct where they are spent.

The bill increases fundraising from corporate sources by allowing unlimited solicitations from trade associations and exposing employees and their families to repeated requests for funds. The legislation also increases by 50 percent the total amount that a political action committee (PAC) can contribute to a federal candidate for both the primary and general elections.

The legislation would repeal a key restriction enacted in 2002 to prevent the use of soft money to fund sham issue ads -- broadcast ads promoting or attacking federal candidates close to the election. Finally, the bill, by exempting the Internet from the definition of “public communications,” would allow federal candidates to directly control the spending of unlimited sums of soft money on paid advertising campaigns run on the Internet.

The League of Women Voters urges you to publicly oppose H.R. 1316.