WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., commended his House colleagues Wednesday for stopping in its tracks an amendment that would have undermined the so-called 527 stealth PAC law, an important campaign finance reform authored by Lieberman and enacted two years ago to rid the nation’s electoral campaigns of undisclosed campaign cash.
The House voted 205-219 to defeat a popular tax bill because it contained the provision, sponsored by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“This is a major rebuke to those who would waste no time in trying to undermine our campaign disclosure laws,” Lieberman said, noting that the landmark McCain-Feingold bill had recently been signed by the President. “The ink is barely dry on the President’s signature on a bill to rid our system of soft money and yet opponents are already busy plotting to find new loopholes.
“Now that the House has put a stop to this, we can move on to a bi-partisan solution to the double-reporting issue that Senator Hutchison and I have proposed.”
The Thomas amendment came in response to a legitimate complaint – that a number of state and local candidates and PACs must report the same activity twice. The Thomas bill, however, threatened to create new loopholes by offering too broad an exemption that would have allowed alleged state PACs that don’t report all their activity on the state level to avoid the federal reporting requirement.
Lieberman and Senator Kay Baily Hutchison, R-Texas, introduced an alternative measure in the Senate Tuesday (S.2078) to address the duplicate reporting issue. Their proposal exempts state PACs if they report all of their large contributions and spending on the state level. The Hutchison-Lieberman proposal was approved by the Senate last year but died in conference.