A Victory for Soft Money Mudslinging

Yesterday, a federal court ruled in favor of a challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Law of 2002 (BCRA) that I sponsored along with Representative Christopher Shays and Senators McCain and Feingold.  The provision of the law that was challenged prohibited groups from using "soft money" to run advertisements that name candidates one month prior to a primary election and two months prior to a general election.

Wisconsin Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, ran its ads to undermine my Senate partner in reform Russ Feingold, but it brought this case specifically to invalidate the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that Russ and I fought for.

I am very disappointed by the split decision issued by the court, which is inconsistent with the Supreme Court ruling in McConnell v. FEC.  Fortunately, this narrow ruling only applies to the three specific ads mentioned in the case.

Even early critics like David Broder admit that BCRA has been successful in reducing the influence of wealthy special interests on elections.  Shays-Meehan was clearly intended to cover these types of sham issue ads and this ruling cannot be seen as carte blanche to run electioneering ads.

It is worth noting that the judge who wrote the decision in this case also wrote the lower court decision in McConnell invalidating BCRA.  That decision was overturned by the Supreme Court.  I strongly disagree with this ruling and while I can't make any predictions about success, I look forward to appealing this decision to the Supreme Court as well.