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Soft Money Creates Enormous Loophole Campaign Finance System

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Ellen Miller discusses a report on “soft money” just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan public interest organization for which she serves as Executive Director. Soft money describes a form of political fund-raising not subject to federal regulation. A 1979 law allowing contributions for “party-building” activities, which was originally enacted to support local, grassroots politicians who would not otherwise have access to funding, is being exploited by entities normally prohibited from making campaign contributions, such as large corporations and labor unions. With these contributions, the Republican and Democratic Parties have been able to double or triple their funding receipts. They then funnel portions of this money to state and local party accounts, and from there it is redirected to presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Many of the leading contributors, such as AT&T, Philip Morris, and RJR Nabisco, are found to have made sizable contributions to both parties, thus ensuring that they will have the ear of whoever ends up with control of the White House.

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