Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) applauded the House of Representatives for passing HR 2356, the landmark Shays-Meehan comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation, tonight by a vote of 240-189.

“The Shays-Meehan reform bill will eliminate the most egregious aspect of campaign financing — soft money,”  Smith said.  “Soft money contributions are the unlimited and unregulated amounts of money that are given to political parties and then funneled to candidates.  It’s a loophole that has allowed big contributors to avoid federal election law and public scrutiny.”

“Under current law, campaign spending can be hidden in ‘soft money,’” Smith explained. “For example, although a PAC can only contribute $5,000 per election to a candidate, it could contribute unlimited amounts of money to a state political party to use on behalf of that same candidate.  Soft money violates the spirit of the law, and it should be regulated like all political contributions.”

In addition to eliminating federal soft money, Shays-Meehan also limits the use of state party soft money contributions for federal candidates, regulates issue advocacy and strengthens the ability of the Federal Election Commission to ensure that election laws are obeyed.

“I am very proud to have been a co-sponsor of this important bipartisan, bicameral legislation.  This is something that we’ve been working towards for a long time, and after five years, this is the first time that campaign finance reform has passed both the House and the Senate,” Smith said.  “A strong coalition of Democrats and Republicans worked together to limit the influence of wealthy contributors in elections and give regular Americans a louder voice in their democracy, and I hope that President Bush will sign the bill without delay.”