Senate OKs corporate TV pol ad taboo

The Senate on Tuesday approved 100-0 an amendment to campaign finance reform that, among other things, would require TV stations to disclose who is funding broadcast ads run by independent political groups.

Meanwhile, the Senate defeated 52-47 a proposal that would have raised the individual contribution limit to $3,000 from $1,000. The Senate also voted down 60-40 a proposal that would have capped corporate contributions to political parties at $60,000 per donor per year. The defeat of those two amendments is a big victory for campaign finance reformists Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who say the changes would have demolished the intent of their original bill.

On Monday night, the Senate approved 51-46 an amendment that would forbid independent groups from spending "soft money," or unlimited corporate contributions, on broadcast TV ads in the month or two leading up to primary or general elections. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) may end up proving a spoiler because many consider the bill an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. Wellstone and his supporters say the bill includes a so-called "severability" clause, which means opponents could challenge just the amendment in court without striking the entire bill from the books.

Opponents later this week will try to add a non-severability clause to the entire bill, which would require a court to strike down the entire law if any one part is found unconstutional.
- Paige Albiniak