Five Years after McCain-Feingold, Law’s Failure is Evident


PRESS RELEASE: March 27, 2007

Media Contact: Stephen M. Hoersting (703) 682-9359


"Five Years after McCain-Feingold, Law’s Failure is Evident"

Arlington, Va. – President Bush signed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 into law on March 27, 2002. Five years later, the law, also known as McCain-Feingold, continues to jeopardize First Amendment freedoms while doing nothing to reduce political corruption.

The law’s evident failure, however, hasn’t stopped the Reform Institute and the Committee from Economic Development (CED) from hailing it as a "success" that has "strengthened our democracy." In a joint statement issued Monday, the two groups praised the law, claiming that it had reduced corruption and "enhanced the participation of small donors."

The joint statement does not cite any evidence that either incidences of corruption or the public perception of corruption have decreased following the law’s passage. Bradley A. Smith, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission and Chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), believes this is because no such evidence exists. "What has McCain-Feingold done to reduce corruption?" asked Smith. "The era of McCain-Feingold is the era of Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson, Bob Ney, and Jack Abramoff."

Smith also questioned the groups’ claims that increased Internet contributions by small donors could be attributed to McCain-Feingold. "The rise of Internet contributions is due to a marked increase in information technology. It has happened despite McCain-Feingold, not because of it."

In addition to praising McCain-Feingold, the groups also used the law’s anniversary to advocate for reform of the Federal Election Commission and for more sweeping restrictions of independent political speech by "527" organizations. Stephen M. Hoersting, Executive Director of CCP, was unsurprised. "It’s typical of ‘reform’ rhetoric; every law is both ‘a huge success’ and also ‘a very small step.’ It’s further proof that the only thing McCain-Feingold did successfully was pave the way for more regulation of political speech."

The Center for Competitive Politics is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. CCP’s mission, through legal briefs, studies, historical and constitutional analyses, and media communication, is to educate the public on the actual effects of money in politics, and the results of a more free and competitive electoral process.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.