April 20, 2004


New Rules on Fund-Raising Bring Lobbyists to the Fore (GLEN JUSTICE, 4/20/04, NY Times)

A central purpose of the sweeping new campaign finance law was to limit the influence of special-interest money in politics.

But by a twist of legislative fate, lobbyists say that under the law they are being pressed by politicians to give and raise far more than ever.

"I'm getting killed with fund-raising requests everywhere," said Robert L. Livingston, a former Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, now a lobbyist.

Before the law took effect in late 2002, political parties and candidates were fueled by six- and seven-figure soft money donations, which totaled hundreds of millions of dollars. Now that those have been banned, lawmakers and their parties are being forced to compensate by raising money in smaller increments. As a result, both are turning to a reliable source: lobbyists, who have always been an integral and interested party in the process.

While lobbyists have always been swamped with solicitations from politicians, many say they are being asked to give more and organize more fund-raising events, where they invite their clients to contribute.

The new law doubled to $2,000 the maximum that an individual can give to a candidate, and lobbyists donated accordingly. They gave candidates and political parties more than $12 million in 2003, 53 percent more than in the same period in the last presidential election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign financing. And fund-raising has continued apace since then, putting lobbyists well on track to beat the totals in the 2000 races by Election Day.

It's hardly ironic, indeed it's quite predictable. Attempts to limit the amount of money in politics or restrain the raising of said are always destined to make the money and fundraising more important. Want to reduce the influence of money? Get rid of all the limits. It would have the added advantage of bringing the law back into conformity with the Constitution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 20, 2004 1:45 PM
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