Contact: Alexis Rice or Michael Weiner 202-387-2800
WASHINGTON, February 11, 2002 -The Reform Jewish Movement joined today with a broad coalition of religious organizations urging Members of the House of Representatives to support the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill (H.R. 2356) and to reject measures aimed at undermining meaningful campaign finance reform. The letter notes that Shays-Meehan "provides for reasonable changes in a campaign financing system in desperate need of repair." Other organizations signing on to the letter include: American Friends Service Committee, Washington Office, Mennonite Central Committee, US Washington Office, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Presbyterian Church USA, Washington Office, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Justice Team, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, and United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
The complete statement follows:
We, the undersigned religious organizations, write to urge you to support the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill (H.R. 2356). This important legislation provides for reasonable changes in a campaign financing system in desperate need of repair. As the House considers the bill this week, we also urge you to reject measures aimed at undermining meaningful campaign finance reform, including the alternative legislation, H.R. 2360, as well as any "poison-pill" amendments that are proposed.
Campaign finance reform is an issue with significant moral implications. As sure as apathy, cynicism, and mistrust work against religious principles, so are they enemies of a healthy democracy. The current system of campaign financing feeds these negative forces. The soft money regime makes a mockery of current contribution limits. Similarly, so-called "issue ads" are created with electioneering in mind, yet for technical reasons are not regulated as such. Both of these tactics - soft money and issue ads - are devious attempts to skirt existing law, and they should be banned and regulated, respectively.
Campaign finance reform is an issue that matters to the American public. Perhaps now more than ever, Americans want to feel that their government is trustworthy and responsive to their needs. They recognize the pernicious role that huge, unregulated campaign contributions play in the electoral system, and thus overwhelmingly support the idea of reforming the process.
This week, you and the rest of the House of Representatives will have an historic opportunity to demonstrate to the American people that disillusionment from our political system is unwarranted, and that flagrant exploitation of legal loopholes has no place in our nation's campaign financing process.
While further reform, including voluntary public financing of election campaigns, will undoubtedly be necessary, the Shays-Meehan bill is a significant first step in ensuring that our political system is fair and equitable.
If our society is to retain its moral footing, our elected officials must set an example and lead the way. A majority of Representatives recently set such an example by supporting the discharge petition to force a fair vote on Shays-Meehan. Now, the House must again join together and pass this vital legislation.
American Friends Service Committee, Washington Office
Mennonite Central Committee, US Washington Office
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church USA, Washington Office
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Justice Team
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
# # #
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1800 Reform rabbis.