Candidates' Statements in Reaction to the Supreme Court
December 10, 2003*

Dean
"McCain-Feingold is a very important first step toward the sweeping campaign finance reform this country really needs, and Im glad the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this law," he said.

"Much work, though, remains to be done. Even with this law in place, George W. Bush is able to raise $200 million from corporate special interests--and in return, giving those 'Rangers' and 'Pioneers' unprecedented access and government giveaways in return for their support. We have a long way to go to change the toxic political culture in Washington."

"Our campaign is campaign finance reform. Weve collected hundreds of thousands of small contributions from ordinary Americans all across the country. Those ordinary Americans own this campaign and they are the ones who will call the shots in a Dean administration."
 

Gephardt
"In 2002, I led the fight in the House of Representatives to restore confidence and trust in our democracy by reforming the nation's campaign finance laws. I knew McCain-Feingold would have political ramifications, but I supported it because it was the right thing to do. The Supreme Court's decision today to uphold essential provisions of this historic campaign finance reform law vindicates this fight."
 

Kerry
"Today's ruling is a victory for democracy over big corporations. The problem in American elections is that big corporations have too much influence over our government and our elected representatives.  I've won four elections without special interest money and I've worked my whole career to clean up the election system and weed out the influence of big corporations and the special treatment they get from elected officials in return."
 

Kucinich    *December 12, 2003
"Banning soft money is a step in the right direction, but doubling hard money limits is a giant step the other way, and one that has received much less attention.  The National Voting Rights Institute challenged that change on behalf of a coalition of non-wealthy voters, candidates, and public interest organizations -- including the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Fannie Lou Hamer Project and ACORN.  That suit alleged, quite accurately, that doubling the hard money limits excludes non-wealthy voters and candidates from the political process based on their economic status, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the United States Constitution.  When only 0.11 percent of the voting age population contributed sums of at least $1,000 to a 2002 congressional candidate, doubling the limit to $2,000 provides even more power to a tiny financial elite.  How much power?  Those large contributions amounted to 55.5 percent of the candidates' individual fundraising.

"Think about that.  More than half the money driving the political campaigns comes from 1 percent of the people.  And we wonder why popular positions, like universal health care or a living wage, are not enacted.  Six of the 10 major party candidates for president in 2004 have raised more than 75 percent of their money from contributions of $1,000 or more, and that includes President Bush, who has raised about as much as all the Democrats combined.  Most people cannot pay $2,000 to attend a dinner with a candidate. It is very difficult to run for office at all if you are neither rich nor willing to accept money from corporate interests.  I know.  I'm trying to do it.

"Banning soft money is a positive step which has oddly overshadowed in the media the bigger negative step of doubling hard money. What we need, other than media reform, is true campaign finance reform, complete public financing and the criminalization of bribery."
 

Lieberman
"This is a huge victory. Today the Supreme Court has affirmed the basic principle that our democracy is not and cannot be for sale.  Money and influence must not drown out the voice and  the values of ordinary Americans. I fought for McCain-Feingold because I believed it was not just consistent with the Constitution, it was necessary to preserve its basic promise of one person, one vote and stop the corrosive influence of big money on our political system.

"George Bush, on the other hand, fought this law all along until his position became politically untenable.  And now he's doing his best to violate the spirit of campaign finance reform by staking his reelection on the huge stake he's being given by special interest contributors.  The way to beat him is not to mimic him, as some of my opponents have done in opting out of the public financing system, but to fight for what is right, and show the country the consequences of George Bush's lack of integrity and his special interest sell-out."
 

Moseley Braun
"We have to make certain that the role of campaign finance is not he who has the gold makes the rules.  The whole point of our democracy is inclusion.  And to the extent that raising money excludes or inhibits participation - especially among disenfranchised groups like women and people of color - policy makers have the obligation to remedy the situation.

"Congratulations to Senators McCain and Feingold for their dogged determination in pursuing this law, which is the first step in real reform.  Now, let's finish the job.

"Currently, all voters are not equal in the eyes of the law.  In Buckley v. Valeo, the high court found money to be the equivalent of speech.  I hope today's decision is the beginning of real reform, including expanding the public finance of campaigns so that politics is no longer dominated by the rich.

"As long as the big bucks of a few rule public elections, regular people will continue to fight uphill battles and become further disillusioned with the political process.  Democracies are built upon people -- not money.  And our democracy cannot continue to thrive unless all of us - including women - have a place at the table."