Springfield Journal Register

February 16, 2002

Democrats: Shimkus backpedaling on campaign finance reform 


WASHINGTON — Democrats Friday were quick to accuse Rep. John Shimkus of abandoning his earlier support for
campaign finance reform in this week’s showdown on the issue.

The Collinsville Republican, who represents part of Springfield, voted for campaign finance reform measures in 1998 and 1999.
However, he voted against the measure that was debated into the wee hours of Thursday morning.

"Rep. Shimkus cast a vote to keep big money and special interests in politics," said Kim Rubey, a spokeswoman for the
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Not so, says Shimkus.

He said he voted against the bill as a matter of "intellectual honesty."

Shimkus said he voted for an alternative identical to the 1998 proposal because it was much stricter than the one that passed
the House Thursday, 240-189. The alternative failed, 377-55. 

"In 1998, I voted for a campaign finance bill that banned soft money expenditures by both national and state political parties.
The current version ... does not ban soft money expenditures by state and local parties," Shimkus said. It limits them to

He also complained that the current bill, if enacted into law, would not go into effect until after November’s election.

The House-passed measure, sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Martin T. Meehan, D-Mass., would curb
the flow of unlimited "soft money" to political parties from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals. It also would restrict issue advertising by advocacy groups when it targets specific candidates prior to an election.

Overall, the bill attracted 41 Republicans, 198 Democrats and one independent, who voted for its passage. However, only a
few Illinois House members crossed party lines.

The only two Republicans to vote for the overhaul in election finance laws were freshmen Reps. Tim Johnson of Urbana and
Mark Kirk of Wilmette. "Soft money is the most corrupting money in American politics today," said Johnson.

"The Enron debacle is just one more example of how the current campaign finance system alienates voters, fuels cynicism and
frustration with our political system, and allows political parties and special interests to evade federal election laws," said
Johnson, who added that he was fulfilling a campaign pledge by voting for the bill.

The only Illinois Democrat to vote against the bill was Rep. Bill Lipinski of Chicago. Lipinski voted in favor of the earlier
versions of Shays-Meehan bills in 1998 and 1999.