Free Air Time Forum in Carbondale
Newsletter of The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
November 14, 2002
Free Air Time Forum in Carbondale
ICPR is hosting a Free Air Time Forum in Carbondale, IL, on November 18, 2002. The forum, entitled "The Case for Free Air Time for Political Candidates," will include a keynote speech by former U.S. Senator Paul Simon, and a panel discussion featuring former U.S. Congressman Glenn Poshard, Prof. Robert Spellman of the SIU School of Journalism, and Paul Taylor, the executive director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns. The forum will explore the issue of free television and radio airtime for mpolitical candidates. For more information on the forum, go to http://ilcampaign.org. For more information on the Free Air Time Campaign, go to http://FreeAirTime.org.
After the Election
The polls are closed, the votes are counted, and the winners will be seated in January. The recent elections were Illinois' most expensive ever, with: more spent in every statewide race, more spent in legislative races, more spent for judicial races, and more spent by individual candidates. About the only thing to decline this year was voter turnout - votes for governor fell by over 100,000 since the last election.
So where do we go now? A few reforms seem obvious. Something needs to be done to rein in the influence of special interest contributors. The number of campaign contributions of $5,000 or more soared from about 1,700 in 2000 to nearly 5,000 in 2002. Fewer than 5% of contributors accounted for over half the campaign contributions received by the candidates for Governor and Attorney General. And voters wonder why their concerns were only rarely addressed, if at all.
Illinois also needs a top-to-bottom review of its ethics laws. We have no state ethics commission, no law protecting state employees from campaign solicitations, and absolutely no way of monitoring state employees who may be doing political work on the taxpayers' dime.
Let your legislators and the new administration know that campaign finance and ethics legislation must be priorities in the spring session.
McCain Feingold in Court
While Illinois dallies on campaign finance reform, the national Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) went into effect on November 6. How the federal law will affect campaigns nationally and in Illinois remains to be seen. However, McCain-Feingold is already facing a series of court battles. The outcome of these challenges will determine whether this legislation will lead the way toward reform on a range of vexing issues, including soft money and sham issue advertising.
In the 2002 election, Illinois saw these types of issue group ad campaigns infiltrate state election campaigns. The Law Enforcement Association of America, which advertised heavily in the Attorney General contest, and the American Taxpayers Alliance, which ran ads in the 4th District Supreme Court race, have thus far refused to reveal the source of their funds or even how much they spent. The courts will determine whether McCain-Feingold's attempt to rein in groups like these, who thumb their noses at disclosure, passes constitutional muster.
For more information on McCain-Feingold and its progress in the courts, we recommend the following websites:
The Campaign Finance Institute: www.cfinst.org
The Brennan Center for Justice: www.brennancenter.org
Common Cause: www.commoncause.org