For Immediate Release
October 15, 1996
Voter Education Group Launches
Campaign to Confront Problem of Money in Politics
Goal is to Establish Campaign Finance Reform
as a Priority Issue With Voters
WASHINGTON, DC - The Campaign Reform Project (CRP) launched a long-term initiative today to shed light on the relationship between issues, money and politics, and to give Americans a stronger voice in reforming the current campaign finance system.
CRP's founder Jerome Kohlberg, Jr., made the announcement today at a news briefing with CRP's new president Douglas Berman and Peter Hart, who has conducted focus group research on voter attitudes toward politics during this election cycle. Kohlberg pledged to commit substantial financial resources to CRP over the next several years.
The Campaign Reform Project was formed in 1995. Since the untimely death in January, 1996, of CRP's first President, former Congressman Mike Synar (D-OK), Kohlberg has reconstituted the organization and is launching it on a broader mission.
"Special interest money is corrupting our political process," Kohlberg said. "The flow of dollars and influence underlies the entire system in Washington. Special interest money affects every issue Americans care about - jobs, the environment, education, Social Security, and others. Our goal is to help Americans understand the impact of the system and how they can benefit by changing it."
Kohlberg, the founding partner of the investment firms Kohlberg & Co. and Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, & Co., emphasized the need to establish a level playing field in American politics in order to restore fairness and responsiveness to American democracy.
Under the current campaign finance system voters are increasingly disenfranchised; special interest contributions are increasingly harmful; limits to and inequities in the electronic media have severely diminished competition in campaigns; and, despite disclosure laws, information is inaccessible to the voters.
In order to help voters recognize campaign finance reform as a top priority, CRP will emphasize the impact of money in politics on issues of everyday concern. In addition to raising awareness, CRP will serve as a resource for Americans to come to a collective judgment about the most effective reform measures.
"We can't allow politicians to throw up smoke screens of complexity when the issue is quite simple. Votes, not dollars, should elect legislators, " said CRP's new president Douglas Berman. An attorney, Berman served as the Treasurer of the State of New Jersey from 1990 to 1992, and has managed several political campaigns, including elections held under New Jersey's public financing law.
In working for broad campaign finance reform, CRP's goal is to reduce or eliminate the influence of special interest money on political campaigns, reduce the benefits of incumbency to give challengers a more level playing field, redefine the role of television, and curtail the overall expense of political campaigns. CRP launches its long-term goals with two initiatives in the 1996 election cycle ¯the Disclosure Project and a series of nationally-focused advertisements.
The Disclosure Project seeks to educate voters by highlighting the inadequacy of existing campaign finance disclosure laws. CRP will run ads in three congressional districts disclosing the amount of contributions made to the candidates and urging voters to ask candidates to provide greater detail while making the information comprehensible and easily accessible.
?The Disclosure Project will focus on the races between Sam Gejdenson (D) and Ed Munster (R) in Connecticut's 2nd congressional district, Carolyn McCarthy (D) and Daniel Frisa (R) in New York's 4th congressional district, and Al Salvi (R) and Dick Durbin (D) in Illinois' open race for the Senate.
CRP will also place national advertisements, including a full-page ad in The San Diego Union-Tribune on October 16 that calls attention to campaign finance reform on the day of the second 1996 presidential debate.
The Campaign Reform Project (CRP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit voter education organization dedicated to reforming America's campaign finance laws and revitalizing its democracy. The organization's Web Site is located at www.campaign-reform.org.