WASHINGTON – Senator Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Wednesday condemned the House Ways and Means Committee’s adoption of an amendment that would undermine the so-called 527 stealth PAC law, an important campaign finance reform authored by Lieberman and enacted two years ago in an effort to rid the nation’s electoral campaigns of undisclosed campaign cash.
“I am deeply disappointed by the Ways and Means Committee’s action today,” Lieberman said. “It’s a sad irony that on the same day the Senate is taking such an historic step forward by passing comprehensive campaign reform out of the Congress, the House Ways and Means Committee is taking a step backward by undermining this important disclosure law.”
The 527 legislation, as enacted in 2000, requires 527 tax-exempt organizations to declare their existence, disclose the source of their contributions, and how they spend those contributions, in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. The Ways and Means amendment responds to a legitimate complaint – that a number of state and local candidates and PACs are being asked to report the same activity twice. However the Committee response threatens to open new loopholes in the underlying law that will reintroduce undisclosed money back into politics. Ways and Means adopted its amendment despite the availability of a bi-partisan Senate proposal, sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senator Lieberman, that would address the problem in a way that leaves the underlying law’s full disclosure mandates in tact.
“The Ways and Means majority is correct in that there is a problem that needs addressing,” Lieberman said, “but we have a bipartisan solution targeted to fix the problem that doesn’t open up new loopholes. I am at a loss to understand why proponents of the committee’s action, who say they want a quick fix to this problem, would engage in a prolonged, and I’m sure, losing battle rather than adopt a proposal that would gain immediate approval.
“I hope we can still work together on this issue, and I intend to continue working with Senator Hutchison and our bipartisan cosponsors. But there should be no mistake on the fate of the Ways and Means language in the Senate: That language threatens to undo the requirement that money spent on campaign activities is disclosed. I will do everything I can to prevent this anti-reform measure from becoming law.”