July 12, 2001
Ohio lawmaker at forefront of campaign-reform debate
By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- Whether campaign finance reform legislation succeeds or fails may rest heavily in the hands of Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio.
Ney is the author of a bill being offered as an alternative to more far-reaching legislation to ban national parties from raising and spending money that now is largely unregulated.
Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., introduced the more far-reaching bill. It is similar to Senate legislation drafted by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
When the House takes up the contentious issue of campaign finance reform today, lawmakers will be bracing for a high-stakes showdown be-tween the Ney bill and what is called Shays-Meehan.
Shays-Meehan would ban soft money and, according to the authors, reduce the influence of money in politics. The Senate approved the similar McCain-Feingold bill in April.
Republican leaders have opposed the ban while Democratic leaders have supported it.
Some campaign reformers have called Ney's bill a farce designed to prevent rather than achieve genuine campaign finance reform. But even they give him high marks for his legislative maneuvering.
Give him credit for getting an alternative out there where he was at least able to get some Democratic support, said Norman J. Ornstein, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute who favors McCain-Feingold.
"Whether it's a success or a failure he's obviously shown some talent."
David Owsiany, president of the Buckeye Institute in Columbus, Ohio,
said Ney certainly had a reputation as a major player when he was in the statehouse as a state senator. He is a very capable legislator so I am
Ney bristles at charges that his bill is a sham. If it were, Rep. Albert Wynn,
D-Md., a backer of campaign finance reform, would not be
co-sponsoring it, he said.