Patrick Barron Presents

Bipartisan Congressional Reform Act of 2002

 The Bi-Partisan Congressional Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 also known as the McCain-Feingold Act was meant to address 4 major areas.

As with most things in Washington any power meant to restrict party politics is always accompanied with a back-door approach to compensate and avoid any real effectiveness. Government solutions to government problems are never effective. There’s no true motivation for change; just manipulate the game to gain a political advantage.

1. Ban soft money to the parties

This is when congressional members became the primary conduit for money into the parties as you’ll see in the examples below. Pre-BCRA most top donors to the parties were businesses and interest groups. Post-BCRA top donors became all members of congress. The parties publicly shut off one funding source, soft money, but created different one, congressional members.
The amount transferred from candidate committees to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped from 11.9 million in 2002 to 21.4 million in 2004!

2. Increased contribution limits to members and candidates.

If congressional members are going to assume more fundraising for the parties then they need to bring in more money. They also allowed unlimited transfers from members' campaign accounts to the parties.

3. Create the "Stand by your Ad" disclaimer

This was an ineffective government attempt to regulate itself and tell the public how concerned they are. They allow the disclaimer at the end of the ad because then you’ve already heard the ad. By simply moving the disclaimer (and making it stronger) to the front of the ad, people would discount the ad before it plays. Of course they approved for end of the ad!

4. Restrict Issue Advocacy Ads prior to an election.

This issue was on its face unconstitutional and subsequently thrown out by the Supreme Court. Like anything it was a good way for the parties to say they care and how hard they’re working to address a corrupted process but nothing came from it. Government is not inclined to regulate itself!

Before BCRA was enacted, the top 20 donors to DCCC and NRCC were almost all businesses donating directly to the parties...
...After the BCRA was enacted, the top 20 donors to the DCCC and NRCC were members of Congress.