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Word Count: 618
The recent announcement that the House Republican leaders plan to raise 25 million for the trench warfare they expect to wage in the battle for control of the House in 2000 came as no surprise What was noteworthy was their stated intention to collect this money through so-called soft money contributions and not to reveal necessarily the particular source of such generous giving That news has left even the more jaundiced observers of our campaign finance system shaking their heads at the out-of-control spending habits of many of the highest office holders in the land Last year as readers will recall the House gave overwhelming approval to the Shays-Meehan bill that effectively banned soft money fundraising Unlike the hard money donations given to individual candidates that are subject to limits and other regulations the soft money contributions that were once intended only for party building purposes have been used in recent years to pay for radio and television ads and other campaign activities to the benefit of targeted candidates Both major political parties have abused the system contributing to public cynicism and distaste Last years vote on campaign finance reform came too late in the session for the bill to overcome the obstacles it faces in the Senate Now a solid bi-partisan coalition of House lawmakers is again prepared to pass the Shays-Meehan bill But a recalcitrant House leadership says it will bring up the issue of campaign finance reform in the fall - too late in the year to allow its already thin prospects of passage in both branches to happen before the next election cycle Again like last year a discharge petition has been initiated - a process whereby a majority of House members can force a bill to be discharged literally from committee and brought to the floor for a vote regardless of the desires of the House leadership To date 196 of the 202 signatures on the petition
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