The enclosed letter was sent by reform groups yesterday urging House members to oppose the Cole bill, H.R. 5912, scheduled to be on the suspension calendar today.

The reform groups include Americans for Campaign Reform, Brennan Center for Justice, the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters and Public Citizen.

The Cole bill would repeal public funding of national conventions. The letter states that the reform groups “oppose this legislation and its piecemeal approach to dealing with convention financing.”

According to the letter from reform groups:

H.R. 5912 represents a continuation of the efforts by Representative Cole to repeal the presidential public financing system that was enacted in response to the Watergate scandals.

The letter stated:

Our organizations believe it is essential to repair the presidential public financing system, not repeal it. We strongly support the legislation introduced earlier this year by Representatives David Price (D-NC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Walter Jones (R-NC) (H.R. 414) to revise the presidential system to focus on matching small contributions with multiple public funds for the primary and general elections.

H.R. 414 also would reform the funding for presidential conventions by closing the  loophole that has resulted in corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals financing the conventions with unlimited soft money funds, by repealing public funding for conventions and by replacing the public funds and soft money currently funding national conventions with a new system of hard money contributions to the national parties.

The letter further stated:

We believe a comprehensive approach to dealing with the financing of the national conventions is necessary and therefore oppose the piecemeal approach contained in the Cole bill.

The Cole bill would eliminate public financing for the conventions while placing no restrictions on funding party conventions with corporate and labor union money and large contributions from wealthy individuals. As a result, the parties would end up relying even more on unlimited soft money funds. Such unlimited funds have the power to corrupt officeholders and government decisions, as happened in the Watergate scandals.

The letter concluded:

H.R 414, like the Cole bill, eliminates public financing of conventions but it does so in a responsible way that will not increase the reliance by the national parties and their presidential candidates on corrupting soft money funds to pay for their national conventions.  

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