Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today unveiled bipartisan legislation to limit campaign fundraising for incumbent Senators. Specifically, the Senate Campaign Reform Act of 2006 would change Senate rules to prohibit Senators and their staffs from fundraising for re-election before the eighteen months prior to the date of the next general election for that office. Amidst a culture of lobbying reform and scandals involving money in politics, the Wyden-Graham legislation seeks to reform Senate rules to allow Senators to spend more time and energy on their official government work.
“Our proposal aims to not just treat the symptoms of scandal and corruption; it aims to cure the overall disease wrought by money in politics and lets senators return to spending the majority of the people’s time on the people's business,” said Wyden. “Today in the Senate, after an election is held the first Tuesday in November, people sleep in on Wednesday, and then the fundraising chase starts all over again on Thursday. Under this proposal Senators will go from raising campaign money all six years of their six year term down to eighteen months. Shorter campaigns will result in less partisanship, less scandal, and more good government.”
“Unfortunately, Senators find that too much of our time is diverted to fundraising,” said Graham. “Our legislation allows every Senator to focus on their job for the first four of their six year terms and puts off the money chase till the end. Senators would spend more time legislating and conducting oversight on how tax dollars are spent, and less time acting as perpetual candidates. Everyone would be in the same boat and the rule would apply to all Senators equally. It would make the Senate a much different place.”
Under the bipartisan Wyden-Graham proposal, the Senate rules would be changed to prohibit sitting Senators from making any efforts, personally or through senate or campaign staff, to amass funds or pledges of funds, for a Senate re-election campaign or leadership PAC until the eighteen months immediately before a general election. During this time period, it would also make it impossible for unsolicited funds to be contributed to a re-election campaign fund. The prohibition under the Senate rules would be lifted once any other candidate for the same office raises or spends $100,000. The Wyden-Graham legislation has received statements of support from a number of public interest groups, including U.S.PIRG, Common Cause, and Democracy 21.
Wyden and Graham are two of the Senate’s leading advocates of substantive campaign finance reform. In 2004, the two Senators introduced legislation to make candidates for Federal office take more explicit personal responsibility for ads on the Internet, in print or in prerecorded phone calls referring directly to the candidate's opponent. The Political Candidate Personal Responsibility Act of 2004 followed Wyden's original “Stand by Your Ad” provision on which current accountability rules for TV and radio ads are based.