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Democrats push campaign finance reform

Democrats push campaign finance reform

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate will remain in session around the clock, if necessary, in the push for passage next week of campaign finance reform legislation, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson vowed Saturday.

"Uncontrolled, soft money campaign expenditures are destroying the integrity of our American political system," the South Dakota senator said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

"Political candidates and parties are currently involved in soliciting millions of dollars from special interests, and outside advocacy organizations are spending additional millions of dollars on television ads without letting the public know who they are or where their money comes from," he said.

Most Democrats and some Republicans support the bill, which would ban unlimited "soft money" contributions to national political parties and sharply restrict such donations to state parties.

It would restrict issue ads that are sometimes used for indirect attacks on candidates just before elections, and raise limits on regulated "hard money" contributions that go directly to campaigns.

The bill, sponsored by senators John McCain, R-Arizona, and Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin, was passed by the Senate last year and by the House last month.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said he expects its passage no later than Friday, when Congress begins its two-week spring recess.

Johnson said voters are tired of hearing about the influence of powerful special interest groups that make vast campaign contributions in hopes of influencing legislation, winning tax breaks or getting other favorable treatment.

Because of a loophole in the election law, the contributions are legal and unlimited, he said.

"Our American democracy is in danger of being sold to the highest bidder, and there can be little doubt as to why so many U.S. citizens have become increasingly cynical about the integrity of the entire process," Johnson said.

He said Senate Democrats so far had fought back attempts to soften the bill by Republican foes.




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