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APRIL 9, 2001
11:14 AM
CONTACT:  Sierra Club
Wendy Balazik, 202-675-2383
Sierra Club to Launch Ads Urging Three Senators to Clean Up Elections
WASHINGTON - April 9 - The Sierra Club announced that it will run radio ads in three states calling on Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire, Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon and Senator Tim Hutchinson of Arkansas to support meaningful campaign finance reform. Although these Senators voted against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, the Sierra Club urges them to vote in the future to clean up politics and our environment.

"Americans understand the connection between a clean environment and clean elections. This bill is a first step in giving power to American voters, not just the highest special interest bidder," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "Americans don't want to see our clean air or drinking water safeguards sold to the highest bidder.

"We are disappointed that Senator Bob Smith, Senator Gordon Smith and Senator Tim Hutchinson voted to continue the flow of polluters' cash into campaign coffers," continued Pope. "We wish they had stood up for real campaign finance reform, but we are hopeful that they will support reform for our campaign system in the future."

The McCain-Feingold bill bans soft money -- unregulated contributions given to political parties -- and is an important first step in reforming our campaign system, taking huge, unlimited and unreported donations out of the campaign system. This means that polluting industries will no longer be permitted to dump unlimited amounts of money into campaigns. In spite of these votes, the Senate passed the measure on April 2 by a vote of 59-41.

In the 2000 election alone, the mining industry donated more than $6 million dollars, and now President Bush has rejected a plan to remove arsenic from our drinking water. The oil and gas industries donated more than $32 million to candidates and now the Congress and President Bush want to open the pristine and irreplaceable Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.

The Sierra Club is wary of the increased amounts of money individuals are permitted to give directly to candidates under the McCain-Feingold bill. Individual limits have doubled from $1000 to $2000. Only the wealthiest 1/10 of one percent of Americans donate $1000 or more per election and these increases directly benefit them at the expense of all Americans. Increasing individual donation limits is not the way to decrease the influence of money in politics.

To receive a copy of any of the ads, please contact Wendy Balazik at 202-675-2383.


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