Enron and Campaign Finance

The debate over Enron's influence in Washington has had the welcome spinoff of moving the House toward a vote on a bill that would restrict the role of money in political campaigns.

In the face of public ire over Enron, two more congressmen finally found the courage to sign a petition demanding that the House leadership hold a vote on the Shays/Meehan bill. With the required 218 signatures, a vote is due soon.

A version of the bill already has passed the Senate, and President Bush says he won't oppose whatever campaign-finance reform bill is passed by Congress.

If this bill had been law in years past, companies like Enron could not have given "soft" money to political parties for so-called issue ads. And politicians could have more easily resisted meeting with big-money influence peddlers.

There's no guarantee the House will actually pass the bill, since it would reduce the advantage of incumbent lawmakers in money-raising. And getting it passed will be just the first step down the road to a more complete campaign-finance overhaul.

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