Senate Passes Incumbent Protection

(Tuesday, April 3, 2001) — Americans should be hopping mad. Senators yesterday voted for a bill that was nothing other than an Incumbent Protection Plan, pure and simple.

The anti-gun bill, S. 27, works to silence the voice of outside groups, like GOA, that help educate voters before an election. At the same time, the bill enhances the ability of the politicians in the Republican and Democrat parties to raise and spend money to get their candidates elected.

The bill, sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), passed the Senate by a 59-41 vote. Eleven Republicans, other than McCain, broke ranks with their leadership.

The anti-gun McCain bill would prohibit groups like GOA from running TV or radio ads that mention a candidate’s name in the 60 days prior to an election. [This restriction entered the bill through the Wellstone amendment — the contents of which GOA reported last week.] In other words, S. 27 prohibits many kinds of free speech two months before an election for everyone but the media, the parties and federal candidates.

Moreover, the Senate Incumbent Protection Bill increases the amount of money that the parties can receive during an election cycle, while freezing the dollar amounts given to political action committees (PACs) operated by groups like GOA.

For example, contribution limits to state and local party committees will be doubled, and dollar limits to the national party committees will be increased by 25%. But the amount of money which individuals can give to grassroots PACs, such as the PAC run by Gun Owners of America, will NOT be increased at all under the provisions of S. 27.

Get the picture? More money and more freedom for federal candidates and the parties that represent them. But more restrictions for the people who wish to complain about their behavior in office.

In a strongly worded letter to Senators, GOA explained that support for this bill would be regarded as nothing other than an effort to restrict the First Amendment to cover their own moral inadequacies. In a letter dated March 29, 2001, GOA Executive Director stated that it is no surprise that:

Senator [McCain] who shamed the nation with his membership in the Keating 5 [has led] the effort to silence outside criticism of incumbents…. The problem with the American political system is NOT that too much free speech has educated the American people too thoroughly on dangerous legislation which would impact them.

Rather, the problem with the American political system is that politicians who enter $8 million book deals, steal furniture from the government, lie under oath, sell presidential pardons, and date rape federal employees on government property believe they can cover their own indiscretions by taking away the First Amendment rights of others.

The Senate bill is an abomination. It now moves to the House, where Republican leaders such as Minority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) have committed to do everything in their power to torpedo the legislation. GOA is working with House leaders to devise strategies to kill the bill as well.

One big question mark, however, remains regarding President George Bush. It is unclear how he would act if the Senate bill were sent to him. Bush opposes some of the aspects in S. 27, but he has said he will sign a bill that “improves the system.”

CONTACT INFORMATION:

1. You can contact the Senate at 202-224-3121, or toll-free at 1-877-762-8762. To identify your Senators, as well as to send a message via e-mail, see the Legislative Action Center at http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm on the GOA website.

2. You can contact the President by phone at 202-456-1414 or by fax at 202-456-2461; [email protected] is the e-mail address.

HERE’S THE SENATORS WHO VOTED IN FAVOR OF THE INCUMBENT PROTECTION BILL:

Akaka (D-HI)    Domenici (R-NM)   Lugar (R-IN)
Baucus (D-MT)   Dorgan (D-ND)     McCain (R-AZ)
Bayh (D-IN)     Durbin (D-IL)     Mikulski (D-MD)
Biden (D-DE)    Edwards (D-NC)    Miller (D-GA)
Bingaman (D-NM) Feingold (D-WI)   Murray (D-WA)
Boxer (D-CA)    Feinstein (D-CA)  Nelson (D-FL)
Byrd (D-WV)     Fitzgerald (R-IL) Reed (D-RI)
Cantwell (D-WA) Graham (D-FL)     Reid (D-NV)
Carnahan (D-MO) Harkin (D-IA)     Rockefeller (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)   Inouye (D-HI)     Sarbanes (D-MD)
Chafee (R-RI)   Jeffords (R-VT)   Schumer (D-NY)
Cleland (D-GA)  Johnson (D-SD)    Snowe (R-ME)
Clinton (D-NY)  Kennedy (D-MA)    Specter (R-PA)
Cochran (R-MS)  Kerry (D-MA)      Stabenow (D-MI)
Collins (R-ME)  Kohl (D-WI)       Stevens (R-AK)
Conrad (D-ND)   Landrieu (D-LA)   Thompson (R-TN)
Corzine (D-NJ)  Leahy (D-VT)      Torricelli (D-NJ)
Daschle (D-SD)  Levin (D-MI)      Wellstone (D-MN)
Dayton (D-MN)   Lieberman (D-CT)  Wyden (D-OR)
Dodd (D-CT)     Lincoln (D-AR)

TO SENATORS WHO VOTED IN FAVOR OF THE INCUMBENT PROTECTION BILL:

Dear Senator:

I was disappointed to see that you voted in favor of such an unconstitutional measure as the McCain-Feingold bill. S. 27 is nothing more than an Incumbent Protection Bill which will increase the money (and power) that federal politicians can wield to get themselves elected. At the same time, the Wellstone amendment in the bill works to silence watchdog groups that I depend upon to let me know how my elected officials are behaving. Shame!

TO THE PRESIDENT:

Dear President Bush:

I was disappointed to see that the Senate voted for such an unconstitutional measure as the McCain-Feingold bill. S. 27 is nothing more than an Incumbent Protection Bill which will increase the money (and power) that federal politicians can wield to get themselves elected. At the same time, the Wellstone amendment in the bill works to silence watchdog groups that I depend upon to let me know how my elected officials are behaving. If S. 27 ever gets to your desk, I hope you will not hesitate to veto it, as it squelches the First Amendment rights of all Americans. Thank you.

**************

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