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Challenge to RNC Attempt to Reverse SCOTUS Decision on Soft Money

RNC seeks to overturn McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.

March 10, 2009

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lehman, 212-998-6318
Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, 212-998-6289

RNC Seeks to Overturn McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform

Yesterday the Brennan Center for Justice, on behalf of a group of reform organizations including Common Cause, Demos, the League of Women Voters, and U.S. PIRG, filed an amicus brief opposing the Republican National Committee's (RNC) baseless challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as the McCain-Feingold Act. BCRA restricts soft money contributions, which had allowed big-money contributors to circumvent federal contribution limits in order to curry favor with federal officeholders.

"BCRA's passage closed a major loophole in our campaign finance system that had allowed corporations and unions to write multimillion-dollar soft money checks to political parties in order to influence federal elections, in an end run around federal contribution limits," says Brennan Center Counsel Monica Youn.

"Plaintiffs want to open a slightly different loophole that would once again allow huge soft-money contributions to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens," continued Youn.

In the landmark case, McConnell v. FEC, the Supreme Court rejected the RNC's efforts to overturn BCRA's soft-money ban. The Court found that allowing contributors to give enormous sums of money to political parties was inherently corrupting. Despite the RNC's current promises to refrain from explicit influence-peddling, allowing donors to contribute huge amounts of soft money to the political parties would undermine the federal campaign finance reform system enacted in the wake of Watergate.

Before BCRA, soft-money contributions were nearly half of the $2 billion raised by national parties. In the 2004 and 2006 elections after BCRA passed, national parties raised the same amount without soft money, curbing corruption but still granting the parties and candidates ample resources to extend their political views.

An amicus brief defending the soft money ban was also filed by the congressional sponsors of BCRA, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI).

For more information or to arrange an interview with Monica Youn, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or at jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu, or Susan Lehman at 212-998-6318 or at susan.lehman@nyu.edu.

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