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Senator John McCain on the attacks on the McCain-Feingold law

by Bill Moyers/NOW with Bill Moyers Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002 at 12:57 PM
patels@thirteen.org

On NOW with Bill Moyers , Senator John McCain (R-AZ) discusses the attacks on the newly adopted campaign finance law that he co-sponsored with Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI). Program airs Friday, December 13th, at 9pm ET on PBS (check local listings.)

BILL MOYERS: The Non-Partisan Center for Responsive Politics says less than one-tenth of one percent of the country gave 85 percent, almost 85 percent, of all itemized contributions in our recent elections. What does that tell you, Senator?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, it tells me that it's huge amounts of money contributed by a handful of Americans that are dictating the legislative agenda here in Congress.

BILL MOYERS: If you were an ordinary citizen do you think you'd have a chance up against that system?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: No. I do not.

BILL MOYERS: The Federal Election Commission has left some very large loopholes as you indicate in the...in your bill. Those loopholes will allow millions of dollars in soft money to still go to the political parties -- the very thing you were trying to prevent.

Now, the American people pay to support that commission, but it functions as a lap dog frankly for the two parties. Why don't we just abolish it?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: We're going to introduce legislation in January to fundamentally restructure or abolish it. And that will be hard, because both parties are very satisfied with a commission that will gridlock.

Now, the reason why the Federal Election Commission passed regulations that created loopholes in these laws is because they had a lame duck Democrat whose term had expired who was voting with the three republican commissioners.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I demanded that the lame duck Democrat be replaced by Senator Daschle's nominee, which was the way that we usually operate, a Republican and a Democrat. And guess what? The administration gave me their word that they would appoint her as a recess appointment because they had done that with the other Republican.

And they waited until after the regulations were issued before giving her a recess appointment despite the fact that in writing I had gotten their word that she would be recess appointed in October.

BILL MOYERS: If you can't trust them, why can we?

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I don't...I can't answer that, except to say that in 20 years around this town I've never had my word...I've never had people break their word to me in this fashion.

© Public Affairs Television
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