Political Campaign Finance Reform
1998 Action of Immediate Witness
Among the issues of national and state political importance in the United States, none is of more vital and immediate concern to the healthy functioning of an informed electorate than reform of political campaign financing. It is elemental that persons, businesses, and associations with large purses can, do, and will influence the positions of candidates to whom large contributions are made, using "soft money," which is not subject to existing state and federal regulation.
At the national level, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 1998, generally known as the Shays-Meehan Bill, H.R. 3526, is pending in the United States Congress. This legislation prohibits national political parties, federal candidates, and officials from raising, spending, or directing "soft money" and prohibits state parties from spending "soft money" for activities that affect federal elections.
Sanctimony has marked much of the talk in both houses of the United States Congress, but attempts to avoid commitment have marked the legislative process. Receivers of large contributions like to receive large contributions. Such receivers have offered disabling amendments, and more are threatened, to destroy the clean and clear thrust of the Shays-Meehan Bill.
At the state and local level, campaign finance reform is being proposed via referendum and other measures. For example, Massachusetts will have a referendum on the ballot in November of 1998.
Because the use of the democratic process is a cherished fundamental of Unitarian Universalism, the 1998 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges:
- individual Unitarian Universalists in the United States to inform their Representatives and Senators of their strong support of an unamended Shays-Meehan Bill (H.R. 3526), and to support state and local legislation with similar objectives; and
- Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States to encourage, support, and facilitate such action by their individual members.