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• Campaign finance reform : Bungling at the FBI
Campaign finance reform : Bungling at the FBI
The Times Union of Albany, N.Y. — Aug. 8, 2005
When the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill was signed into law three years ago, cynics warned that it wouldn’t be long before both political parties found ways to get around the new restrictions on soft money. Yet the 2004 elections largely proved such warnings unfounded. …
But by and large, most observers agree that McCain-Feingold worked as intended. It brought to an end the era when soft money ruled the day as corporations, unions and wealthy individual donors sought to buy influence with those in office.
Yet the cynics might just turn out to be right after all, and not because some lawyers have discovered a loop-hole to be exploited. No, in this case, the group working to undermine McCain-Feingold is none other than the Federal Election Commission, which is charged with up-holding that law. …
Both a federal district judge and a federal appeals court have reprimanded the FEC over a proposed regulation that would define the word “solicit” to mean only an explicit request for donations. …
The appeals court rightly found that the FEC’s definition would open the doors to a flood of soft money. In the world of politics, one needn’t make a direct request for money. There are any number of ways for a political candidate to get the message across to contributors that if they want access, they have to pay. A wink and a nod can be as effective a shakedown as a direct appeal for contributions.…
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review — Aug. 9, 2005
Bureaucratic bungling of a requested wiretap shows there are still communication problems, or much worse, within the FBI. …
FBI chief Robert Mueller concedes that a mix-up delayed for four months an immigration official’s request for a wiretap. The tap, which had the support of prosecutors and FBI agents, was needed to build a case against a Houston man suspected of raising money for al-Qaida.
But when the wiretap application reached FBI headquarters in Washington, it slipped out of sight. …
As a result, several hundred communications involving a suspected nexus of terrorism weren’t intercepted, according to an immigration official.
Mueller called the incident an exception. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says cooperation with the FBI is just dandy. …
It was stubborn disregard among federal agencies that allowed terrorists to plot and orchestrate the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. With this enemy, there is no room for unexplained exceptions.
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