- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

Opponents of the House campaign-finance reform bill said yesterday President Bush should veto the legislation because it violates his own principles spelled out nearly a year ago.
Mr. Bush specified six principles he wanted included in the bill in a letter he sent last March to Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, then Senate majority leader.
In a March 15 letter to "highlight my principles for reform," the president told Mr. Lott that the six principles were needed to "ensure that fair and balanced campaign reform legislation is enacted." He said those principles would "represent my framework for assessing campaign finance reform legislation" that reaches the Oval Office.
Members of the conservative House Republican Study Committee yesterday reminded Mr. Bush of his words and said they clearly set forth the reasons for a presidential veto if the House bill would be approved by the Senate and sent to the White House.
"I think the president should be reminded by every member of Congress who voted against this piece of legislation to reread his list," Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, said yesterday.
"The president ought to compare the Shays-Meehan bill as passed to the six principles he enunciated, and if he does that, I think it will convince him that the bill ought to be vetoed," said Rep. John Shadegg, Arizona Republican, who chairs the study committee.
In a memorandum sent to every House member this week, the committee said the bill sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, and Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, "would violate all six of the Bush principles."
"Not one of President Bush's six reform principles" was fully incorporated into the bill, the group said.
The first principle on Mr. Bush's list says the reform bill must "protect the rights of individuals to participate in democracy." Among those rights are "the rights of citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy."
But the House bill contains provisions that would prevent advocacy groups from running television and radio campaign ads in the final month of a primary campaign and the final 60 days before a general election.
"This is an absolutely black-and-white issue that is a serious infringement of the First Amendment. That flaw in and of itself is totally sufficient to warrant a no vote, and if I were the president, I would veto it in a heartbeat," said Rep. Todd Akin, Missouri Republican.
Another principle on Mr. Bush's must list says that campaign reforms "should not favor any one party over another or incumbents over challengers."
One of the biggest criticisms of the House bill is that its provisions strongly favor incumbents over challengers. "This is an incumbent protection package for sure. It doubles the amount of money we can raise, but makes it very hard for anyone to challenge us," Mr. Akin said.
Mr. Bush also wants a bill that would "eliminate involuntary contributions" by requiring labor unions to "obtain authorization from each dues-paying worker before spending those dues" on political campaigns. But the House bill contains no such provision, allowing unions to spend as much of their dues money as they wish.
The president also said it was important for the bill to "maintain strong political parties."
But the committee's memorandum said the House bill "would hamper political parties in numerous ways" by banning soft money and restricting other local uses of regulated money, "thereby weakening parties' ability to interact with citizen activists."

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