Release: campaign finance reform
20 Dec 1996 22:25:22 EDT

2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
For release: December 18, 1996
For additional information:
George Getz, Deputy Director of Communications
(202) 333-0008 Ext. 222

Calls for campaign finance reform are excuse
for clamping down on third parties, Libertarians say

WASHINGTON, DC -- Americans voted for third-party candidates in
record numbers in 1996 -- so Republicans and Democrats now plan to pass
new campaign finance laws to choke off that competition, warns the
nation's third-largest party, the Libertarians.

"Democrats and Republicans want to impose crushing burdens on
the ability of third parties to raise money and communicate with
voters," said party Chairman Steve Dasbach. "This proposed legislation
is a dagger aimed at the heart of third parties."

Recent reports that Bill Clinton rented out the White House's
Lincoln Bedroom to campaign donors for hundreds of thousands of dollars
shouldn't surprise anyone, Dasbach said today.

"What is surprising is that the major parties are using tawdry
episodes like these as an excuse to write a new layer of laws aimed
squarely at their competition," he said.

In the recent presidential election, more than nine million
Americans -- or 10% of all voters -- pulled the lever for candidates
other than Republicans or Democrats. Polls show that over two-thirds of
Americans support the formation of third parties.

Nevertheless, Congress is considering further restrictions on
third parties' sources of contributions. Senators Russell Feingold
(D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) promised to introduce legislation on the
first day of the 105th Congress to ban political action committees,
require that 60% of money raised in a congressional race comes from
within that district, and limit overall campaign spending.

And House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt has discussed
amending the Constitution to restrict First Amendment-protected
campaign spending.

"The idea that we need to limit spending on political campaigns
is preposterous," Dasbach said. "After all, Americans spend twice as
much money every year on yogurt as they do on political campaigns."

Instead of adding to the legal labyrinth that makes competition
difficult for third parties, Dasbach suggested two positive reforms:

* Eliminate government financing of campaigns.

"The public has had a chance to vote on this idea -- and 80%
reject it," said Dasbach. "Only 20% of Americans checked the box on
their tax returns that authorizes federal funding for the 1996
presidential campaign. This is solid evidence that government funding
is hugely unpopular."

* Allow individuals to give more money to candidates and
political parties.

"If Congress were to adjust contribution limits for inflation
-- which it hasn't done in 20 years -- the legal amount individuals
could donate to candidates would rise from $1,000 to $3,000, and the
amount they could contribute to political parties would rise from
$20,000 to $60,000," Dasbach said. "This would be an effective antidote
to any negative influence of PAC money."

One thing that is definitely not needed, said Dasbach, is more
federal regulations.

"Another round of so-called reform won't work," he said.
"Instead, the government should repeal the laws and undo the damage it
has done, rather than making things worse."

Dasbach noted that the last major round of campaign finance
reform -- the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act -- was intended:

* To lower the cost of campaigning. Instead, congressional
campaign spending, in constant dollars, tripled between 1974 and 1992.

* To reduce the influence of special interests. Instead, the
number of PACs increased from 608 to 4,268, and the amount they
contributed grew from $101 million to $179 million.

* To open up the political system. Instead, House incumbents,
who in 1976 outspent challengers by a ratio of 1.5 to 1, outspent them
4 to 1 by 1992.

"In the name of campaign finance reform, Democrats and
Republicans have written a comedy of errors that has aggravated every
single problem it has ever tried to solve," said Dasbach. "It's time to
repeal these laws, deregulate the electoral process, and encourage
healthy competition from third parties."

The Libertarian Party                            
2600 Virginia Ave. NW, Suite 100                          voice: 202-333-0008
Washington DC 20037                                         fax: 202-333-0072

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