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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Condemns Senate Obstruction of Campaign Finance Reform

Saperstein: "If we are serious about seeking justice, and we are, then we cannot, and we will not, accept such a system. If we, as a nation, are serious about preserving and continuing the greatest democratic experiment in the world, than we must agree on changes to protect the integrity of our democracy."

Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, October 19 — In response to Senate actions which prevented a floor vote on banning so-called "soft money," Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and co-chair of Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform released the following statement.

On September 14, 1999, Shays-Meehan (H.R. 417) passed the House for the second consecutive year, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The corresponding Senate bill, McCain-Feingold (S. 1593) was blocked this afternoon through procedural tactics by a minority of Senators, against the wishes of the bipartisan majority.

The full text of Saperstein's statement follows:

Our call for campaign finance reform is reflective of the views of many mainstream religious communities. From the pews and pulpits of our churches and synagogues across the nation, we hear that campaign finance reform is not an esoteric technical issue of election regulations, but one that goes to the essence of the ethical and moral life of our nation.

We hear people asking: How can we expect just results from an unjust system, one in which monied interests hold every advantage, and those who most need the helping hand of government-the poor, our children-cannot make their voices heard above the din? How can we-whose religious calling includes the imperative to speak for the widow and the orphan, for the poor and the children-accept an electoral process which structurally and systematically favors the richest among us? How can we acquiesce in a system which forces those who seek public office, or who wish to continue in public service, to spend so much of their precious time and energy not raising the nation's moral conscience but raising campaign funds?

If we are serious about seeking justice, and we are, then we cannot, and we will not, accept such a system. If we, as a nation, are serious about preserving and continuing the greatest democratic experiment in the world, then we must agree on changes to protect the integrity of our democracy. The current system is inherently corrupt, as, at the very least, it presents the appearance of corruption and undermines the fundamental notion that every member of our society has an equal voice.

It is unacceptable that a minority of the Senate chooses to hold our nation hostage by protecting the monied interests of politics as usual. It is unfortunate that such a minority can succeed in doing so by manipulating the rules of the Senate to their advantage. It is unconscionable that for yet another year the will of the people goes unheeded and the power of "soft money" remains uncontrolled.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.



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