Thank you for contacting me regarding your concern about the national trend toward globalism, particularly as foreign ownership of the media impact elections. I appreciate having the opportunity to address your concerns.
Like you, I do not support increasing the role of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in elections. However, I also do not believe its authority should be stripped. The FEC plays a vital role in ensuring proper disclosure and in leveling the playing field between incumbents and challengers in elections.
With breaches in campaign finance laws dominating headlines, the issue of reform has been brought to the forefront of public interest. President Clinton has been plagued by questions about foreign contributors and about his policies of White House accessibility to big donors. At the same time, the public has grown weary of hearing of special interests playing a large role in the elections process. Cynicism and apathy about our political system are now common in a country where civic responsibiltiy and trust in our national leaders were once inherent. These serious concerns draw legitimate questions about campaign finance laws.
In response to these ethical questions and public interest, a number of bills addressing different aspects of campaign finance laws have been introduced in Congress. It is unclear a this point which will be considered by the full House. My concern is that in an effort to enact legislation that is popular politically, Congress will consider bills that would not only hamper the (456-0143) political process but would aid in the election of the candidate that is willing to corrupt the entire election process. I am committed to protecting the system from any reform that would lessen the chance of law-abiding candidates' having a fair election.
I am currently serving on the Freshman Class Campaign Finance Reform Task Force. In this position, I will carefully analyze the different proposals with your comments in mind. I hope we can reach bipartisan consensus on reform that truly addresses the issues at hand.
Regarding the issue of foreign ownership of media, I am currently researching this issue. I appreciate your concerns that while the FEC regulates contributions and expenditures of American citizens, newspapers owned by foreign individuals or corporations are not subject to such regulation. The problem is in limiting the freeom of speech of these newspapers. Any type of regulation of editorial comment would be unconstitutional.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on any matter that interests you.
Ann M. Northup
Member of Congress