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c/o National Council of Churches, 110 Maryland Ave., NE, Washington, DC 20002

March 16, 2001

Dear Senator:

As religious leaders we renew our call for campaign finance reform. Four years ago, many of us in an open letter to Congress called for the passage of meaningful campaign finance reform. The resulting coalition, Religious Leaders for Campaign Finance Reform, has worked since then with public interest groups in Washington, DC, and across the nation on a variety of reform efforts. We, the undersigned, once again come together to insist on reform, beginning with the McCain/Feingold bill to ban "soft money."

As religious leaders committed to the restoration of a sense of ethics and fairness in our society, we believe that campaign finance reform is much more than a political or economic matter. Wide scale cynicism about the value of one’s vote is undercutting America’s faith in government. Respect for public service is being further eroded by the current campaign finance system, which gives the appearance that political access and favors are for sale to the highest bidder. Without substantial reform we see further erosion in the public trust that politicians are committed to the common good, not just to wealthy special interests.

Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold have made enactment of comprehensive campaign finance reform a priority of this legislative session. They have reached across partisan lines in gathering support for their long-standing effort. Their bill includes many of the elements we regard as most critical, including a ban on "soft money" contributions to national political parties, more effective regulation of "issue ads," and greater disclosure of campaign contributions. We urge Congress to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2001 (S. 27). We further urge Members to support the bill in its current form in order to restore credibility to the democratic process and ensure that persons and groups with extraordinary wealth do not continue to have undue influence in our elections. While further reform, including voluntary major public financing of election campaigns, will undoubtedly be necessary, the McCain-Feingold bill is a significant first step in building fairness and public confidence in our system of government.

If our society is to regain its ethical footing, our elected officials must set an example and lead the way. Congress now faces an historic opportunity to enact long-overdue reform. By taking the first step of passing the McCain-Feingold bill, you will help restore a sense of ethics and fairness to American democracy.

Click here for list of signatories.

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