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The Better Way: Fair Elections Gains Momentum
Date:10/27/2009

Money continues to pour into the campaign coffers of members of Congress from the health insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies. This year alone, the health industries have spent more than $260 million on lobbying and have given almost $29 million in political contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

To what end? A majority of Americans support comprehensive health care reform, but far too many elected officials in Washington, D.C. seem to side with the health industry's positions. Campaign cash is used to curry favor and buy access that Main Street Americans just can't get.

Exempting auto dealers? Last week, the House Financial Services Committee passed a piece of legislation creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Among the amendments offered in committee was one authored by Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), a former car dealer, to exempt auto dealerships from the agency's oversight.

Not only was Rep. Campbell the recipient of $170,550 in campaign donations from auto dealers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; he received between $600,000 and $6 million in rent from auto dealers in 2008. If that's not a conflict of interest, we don't know what is.

Only in Congress is this business as usual. Rep. Campbell's amendment passed 47-21. The final bill passed by a 39 to 29 vote. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, those voting against the bill "received an average of 20 percent more in contributions from financial interests over the past two-and-a-half years than the bill's supporters."

Fair Elections Gains Momentum

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. There is a bill that is making it's way through Congress that would allow candidates to run for office without having to rely on big campaign contributions from those with interests before Congress.

Called the Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752 and H.R. 1826), the bill
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SOURCE Public Campaign Action Fund
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