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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 2, 2014 5:00am-7:01am EDT

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and our laws against bribery provide an adequate protection against misconduct in office. it is fundamentally wrong to assume that preventing elections are a contest between the candidates for public office. like rules that govern athletic contests or adversarial litigation, those rules should create a level playing field. the interest in creating a level playing field justifies regulation of campaign speech that does not apply to speech about general issues that is not designed to affect the outcome of elections. the rules should give rival candidates irrespective of their party and incumbency status, an equal opportunity to persuade citizens to vote for them. just as procedures in contested
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litigation regulate speech in order to give adversarial parties a fair and equal thertunity to persuade decision-maker to roll in their favor, rules regulating political campaigns should have the same objective. theelections, decision-makers are voters. not judges or jurors. that does not change the imperative or the equality of opportunity. second, all elected officials would lead happier lives and be better able to perform their if theyesponsibilities did not have to spend so much time raising money. limiting campaign contributions and expenditures should recognize the distinction between money provided by their constituents and money provided by nonvoters.
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corporations and people living in other jurisdictions. an important recent opinion written by judge brett kavanaugh of the d c circuit, and summarily affirmed by th supreme court, upheld the constitutionality of the federal statute that prohibits foreign citizens from spending money to support or oppose candidates for federal office. a federal interest in preventing foreigners from taking part in elections in this country justified the financial regulation, placed no limit on canadians' freedom to speak about issues of general interest. during world war ii, the reasoning behind this statute would have prohibited japanese agents from spending money opposing the reelection of fdr, but would not have limited their ability to broadcast propaganda
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to our troops. similar reasoning would justify the state of michigan placing restrictions on campaign expenditures made by residents of wisconsin or indiana without curtailing their speech about general issues. ' fundamental right to participate in selecting their own political leaders is far more compelling than the right of nonvoters, such as corporations and nonresidents, to support or oppose candidates for public office. the case illustrates that the interest in protecting campaign speech by non-voters is less worthy of protection than the protection of speech about general issues forth. about general issues. fourth, money is not speech. speech is only one of the gntivities financed by campaing
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expenditures. those should received the same protection as a speech itself. campaign funds were used to finance the watergate burglaries, clearly not protected by the first amendment. fifth, perhaps the most important thing i want to say, the central error in the campaign-finance jurisprudence is the 1976 case of buckley congressaleo, denying the power to impose limitations on campaign expenditures. justice byron white was the only member of the court to dissent from that holding. as an athlete and as a kennedy'st in jack campaign for presidency, he was familiar with the importance of -- s are guarding a
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importance of rules regarding a level playing field. i have always thought byron got it right. ray, one of the most ardent supporters of a broad interpretation of the first amendment, characterized its rolling on campaign expenditures misguided,"ly because that erroneous holding has been consistently followed ever since 1976, we need an amendment to the constitution to correct that fundamental error. i favor the adoption of this simple amendment. "neither the first amendment nor any provision of this constitution shall be construed to prohibit the congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money the candidates for public office or their supporters they spend
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in election campaigns." i think it wise to include the reasonable, the word reasonable, to ensure legislatures do not prescribe limits that are so low that incumbents have an unfair advantage or that interfere with the freedom of the press. i have confidence that my former colleagues would not use that word to justify a continuation of the practice of treating any limitation as unreasonable. unlimited campaign expenditures and pair the process of democratic self-government. they create a risk that successful candidates will pay more attention to the interests of nonvoters who provide them with money then to the interests of the voters who elected them. that risk is unacceptable. mr. justice, thank you very much. we appreciate your willingness
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to share them with us today. you are excused. in accordance with the process that we discussed at the beginning, i will now turn to senator cruz for an opening statement. would like to thank justice stevens for being here and joining us. prior to being in the senate i spent much of my professional career as an advocate for the court. it is a different position to be on the side of the dais rather than answering questions from justice stevens. and i will know that of all of the justices, justice stevens often as agreed with the position of my clients. there was no justice his questions -- there was no justice whose questions were friendly, and more dangerous than justice
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stevens. counsel, when you just agree with this small little thing that if you said yes what unravel the entire position in your case? it is very nice to have the digest is with us. i -- it is very nice to have the good justice with us. i want to thank all our witnesses. this topic is of great import. the entire bill of rights, the first amendment is the foundational right of every other right that is protective of citizens. ofill say in the issue campaign finance reform, this is perhaps the most misunderstood issue in all of politics. because campaign-finance reform restrictions are always pitched as let's prevent corruption and hold politicians accountable. and they do exactly the opposite. every single restriction this body puts in place is designed -- protecthing
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incumbent politicians. and it is powerfully good thought. at the end of the day, there are three speakers in a debate. politicians, the media, and the citizens. reform is allce about silencing number three. so that the politicians can speak unimpeded. i will say there are colleagues of mine in both parties who will stand up and say these pesky citizens groups, they keep criticizing me. well, that is the nature of our democratic process. if you choose to run for office there are 300 million americans who have a right to criticize you all day long and twice on sundays. that is how our system was built. and i will tell you this. i am one who will defend the rights of our citizens to speak out, whether i agree with their speech or not. the sierra club has a right to defend their views, as does the nra.
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planned parenthood has a right to defend its views, as does the national right to life. that is the way our system operates. and campaign-finance reform is all about lower the limits, restrict the speech. what happens is the only people who can win elections are incumbent politicians. politiciansmbent have armies of lobbyists and entrenched interests that raise money and fund them. any challenger that comes across has to raise the money. if you don't have an army of funders, you cannot challenge an incumbent. that is not the unintended effect of these laws. that is the intended effect. our current system makes no sense. right now we have super pacs speaking on the sidelines. politicians who play games, since they cannot spit directly under the law, they say who will
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rid me of this troublesome cleric. and you hopes, what they say bears some resemblance to what you believe but you are not allowed to talk to them. a far better system would be to allow individuals unlimited contributions to candidates and require unlimited -- and require immediate disclosure. as john stuart mill said, let more speech counter bad speech. rather than the silly game we play right now. there are a series of commands that they get -- canards. a series of we can restrict money because it has nothing to do with speech. it is categorically false. money is and has always been used as a critical tool of speech.
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whether publishing books or putting on events or broadcasting of the airwaves. would suggest to everyone thinking about this issue, ask yourself one question. for every restriction that members of congress or advocates put forth, ask yourself one question, would you be willing to apply that same restriction to "the new york times." the new york times is a corporation. some say let's restrict political speech within 90 days of an election. say "the be willing to new york times" may not speak about politics within 90 days. mccutcheon said you cannot tell citizens they can only support nine candidates. if they want to support 10 or 11, they are entitled to do so. if you think mccutcheon is wrong, would you be willing to tell "the new york times" you
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can only speak about nine candidates or only candidates in new york. those restrictions are obviously unconstitutional. does a ask you why corporation like "the new york times" or any other media congress' view, enjoy greater first amendment rights then individual citizens. our democrat process is broken because politicians in both parties hold onto incumbency. we need to empower individual citizens. i will say this in closing. , agree with justice hugo black who famously said with regards to the first amendment, the words congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, no law means no law. we should be vigorous protecting the rights of individual citizens to be engaged in the political process.
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and to hold everyone of us accountable. it is the only thing that keeps our democratic process working. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator udall? thank you very much, chairman king. good morning. thank you for holding this very important hearing. i want to thank the witnesses that i know are going to be here later to discuss what i think is a very important topic. let me is saved to the chairman of the rules committee, chairman schumer, i appreciate your statement. we are going to have a vote this year on a constitutional amendment, i think it is about time. we have had several votes, one in 1997, one in 2001. these rulings by the supreme court have gone so far that we are really right for having a vote and trying to coalesce around something. has leftstice stevens
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but i want to say the words i have in my statement to him. dissent inor of the citizens united, you wrote that "the court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation." i have found myself agreeing with justice stevens. unfortunately, this is another of those times. four years after citizens united, the damage continues. court's decision in mccutcheon this month was one more stop in dismantling our campaign finance system. it is crystal clear that an amendment to the constitution is necessary to allow meaningful campaign-finance rules. as i heard chairman schumer talk the issue of being absolute, that is what we are talking about. allowing meaningful campaign-finance rules.
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not abridging the first amendment in any way. most americans do not have unlimited dollars to spend on elections around the country. they only get their one vote. they can support one candidate, the one who represent their district or state. for the wealthy and the super wealthy, mccutcheon says they get so much more. that decision gave them a green light, full speed ahead to donate to an unlimited number of candidates. now a billionaire in one state gets to influence the elections and 40 nine other states. under mccutcheon, one donor can million every two years just like that. consider this -- an american citizen working full time making minimum wage would have to work 239 years to make that kind of money. 239 years. the court has shown a willingness to strike down
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sensible regulations by a narrow majority and is returning our campaign-finance system to watergate era rules. the same rules that fostered corruption, outraged voters, and promoted standards in the first place. our campaign finance system was in trouble long before the citizens united and the coaching long before. the citizens united and mccutcheon decisions just picked up the pace. justice stevens mentioned o, 1976.versus vale the court ruled that restricting independent campaign expenditures violates the first amendment right to free speech. areffect, money and speech the same thing. this is tortured logic and ignores the reality of political campaigns. the outcome is not surprising.
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more aboutave become the quantity of cash and less about the quality of ideas. more about social interests and less about public service. we have a broken system based on a deeply flawed premise. that is why i introduced aj res -- that is why i introduced sj has 35 it now cosponsors. senator kaine and schumer are on king and senator schumer on it. it started with senator stevens in 1983 and has true bipartisan roots. it is consistent with the amendment justice stevens has proposed. it would restore the authority of congress, stripped by the court, to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal political campaigns. this would include independent expenditures. it would allow states to do the
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same at their level. it would not take any specific policies or regulations. that would allow congress to pass sensible campaign-finance reform. withstandt would constitutional challenges. in the federalist paper number 49, james madison argued that the u.s. constitution should be amended only, he used this term, only in great and extraordinary go withoutould we amendment. i agree with him. i also believe we have reached one of those occasions. free and fair elections are a founding principle of our democracy. they should not be for sale to the highest bidder. this effort started decades ago, there is a long and bipartisan history here. our predecessors from both parties understand the
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danger. they knew the corrosive effect money has had on our political system. they spent years championing the cause. in 1983, the 90th congress, ted stevens introduced an amendment to overturn buckley. 99thery congress, from the to the 108, fritz hollings introduced amendments similar to mine. senators schumer and conquering continued the effort. that was before the citizens united and mccutcheon decisions, before things went from bad to worse. the out-of-control spending before citizens united has further poisoned our elections. it has also ignited a broad amend theo constitution. mccutcheon is the latest misguided decision, but it will not be the last. it is time for congress to take back control and pass a constitutional amendment.
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again, chairman kean and chairman schumer, i thank you for holding this hearing. it is very timely on the heels of mccutcheon. next panelu, if our could take their seats, i will introduce you. we're going to hear from this panel in alphabetical order. mcgahn, mr. donald f previously he was commissioner and chairman of the fec. he served as general counsel for the national republican congressional committee for 10 years. second is norman or is in, resident scholar at the american enterprise institute. well-known columnist and onquent commenter campaign-finance issues. third is trevor potter, previously he was commissioner and chair of the fec and served as general counsel to john
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mccain's 2008 presidential campaign. , former chair of the california fair political practices commission and currently vice chair of the fec. reiff, founding member of his law firm and former deputy general counsel for the democratic national committee. todayyou for joining us and i welcome your opening statements. if you have more lengthy statements, they can be submitted for the record. we look forward to hearing from you and then we will discuss these issues. mr. mcgahn? >> chairman king, ranking member robert's, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you. for the committee's request, i submitted written testimony with neil reiff, we are practitioners
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in the area of campaign finance her and our views are shaped by experience and advising real people who wish to dissipate in politics. we have similar clients and are not here to represent the views of any of those clients, we differ in one way. one of us represents republicans while the other represents democrats. such a partisan difference in the modern world would ordinarily preclude any notion of common ground, but not here. recently we co-authored an article published that explains our views on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the current law. particularly the act of 2002, mccain-feingold. we explainined -- that the current problems can be traced back to the statute itself. back in 2002, mccain-feingold has become a warped version of itself. party committees have taken a we suggest a different
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approach that flows from our first amendment tradition. in order for voters to be informed, they need to hear directly from the candidates themselves. the candidate's voice ought to be the central voice. the parties are the best vehicles to assist with achieving our goals. political parties are uniquely situated to echo the candidate'' messages. our views are not designed to transfer relevancy back to the parties for relevancy's sake. recall buckley versus valeo, james buckley was not mounted by either of the two parties. candidate that felt the burdens of the reform the most. we care first about grassroots activity by ordinary citizens and believe that mccainfeingold has reached too far into state and local politics and contributed to pushing local activists outside the parties. current laws place parties at a competitive disadvantage and
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have federalized party programs. this brings us to the 2014 landscape, direct contribution limits remain at levels that do the level of inflation. the $10,000 state party limit ought to be about $48,000. in addition to regular inflation, the cost of campaigning has skyrocketed due to the cost of television advertising. other measures imposed by the law have been struck by the courts, except those that limit the ability of political party committees to assist candidates. candidates are struggling to be heard. party committees have diminished and been replaced by super pacs and nonprofits. this seems backwards and is the opposite of the goal of reform. some claim more disclosure is the answer. nott from my work this is the answer. campaign disclosure has
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survivedd judicial review but it has had a mixed review in the courts. , buckley collins versus valeo, davis versus fec, disclosure has its limitations. as justice stevens said, writing for the court's majority "it is a shield for the tyranny of the majority." justice stevens also said speaking for the court "the freedom to publish anonymously extends beyond the literary realm." continuing "on occasion, an advocate may believe her ideas would be more persuasive if the readers are unaware of her daddy. anonymity -- are unaware of her identity. fven in the field of
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political rhetoric, the most effective advocates have opted for anonymity." we anticipate mccutcheon will help address unfairness to some degree but it did not strike limitations to candidates and party committees. what was struck was an number element that prevented citizens from giving to more than a few candidates. ,he impact of mccutcheon candidates including challengers will have access to support. hopefully direct contributions of anot be the province select few. the upstart challenger candidates, the political party, will no longer have to compete with each other to the degree caused by mccainfeingold. this is not enough to fix our system. mccainfeingold must be revisited.
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thank you for the opportunity to present these views. >> thank you. mr. ornstein? >> thank you, it is a pleasure to be here. i want to start by commending senator cruz for his full throated support of disclosure. i look forward to his vote for the disclose act when it comes up in the senate. >> i wrote that down myself. >> i also want to thank senator roberts for putting up the text i the first amendment, which have read and reread so many times. i am still looking for the word "money." i just have to say that if money is defined as speech, then the rights of citizens as equals in this process to participate simply gets blown away. those who have lots of money have lots of speech. those who have little money have
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little or no speech. having said that, i want to talk about to larger concerns that are generated by the multiple recent moves that i believe have knocked the pins out from under the regulatory regime that has long operated in american politics. i wrote my testimony going back to the tillman act in 1907. it really does take us back to the 1830's. the two things i want to talk about art the corrosive corruption caused when you remove the modest limits on money. the real focus of the hearing is the efforts to limit disclosure and allow dark money without accountability. as i look through history, what we know is that the focus on corruption, the concerns about corruption and money are not new at all. they go back at least to an thempt in 1837 to prohibit
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parties from shaking down government employees and giving contributions. as historian john lawrence noted, abraham lincoln, a republican, warned that concentrated capital had become "and thrown in the political system." he worried about an era of "corruption in high places until the republic is destroyed." he would be reinforced in that particular judgment today. as we went through the corruption in the grant administration that led to the in 1883, the corruption involving corporate influence on president roosevelt int led to the tillman act 1907, the teapot dome scandal that resulted in the federal corrupt practices act of 1925, the abuse of federal employees that led in 1938 to the passage of the hatch act.
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the taft-hartley act in 1947, the watergate scandal, spurring the federal election campaign act of 1974, that was revised by buckley. the abuses of soft money and other ways that brought about the federal election campaign reform, the bipartisan campaign reform act of 2002. it was scandals that led to corruption that led to change. all of the focus was turned on its head by citizens united. brought as a very narrow as applied decision and then broadened out to basically take away all of those protections, at least going back to 1907. and then to mccutcheon. i want to make a couple broad points. particularly about mccutcheon. despite some of the other focal points, what has alarmed me the most about the mccutcheon decision was justice roberts basically now taking corruption out of the equation.
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the appearance of corruption entirely out of the equation. defining corruption in the narrowest way as a quick joke quo that would only be "n "american hustle variety, videotape exchange. it is so far from the real world. with mccutcheon, where elected solicit large contributions, something that we would try to restrain deeply in mccain-feingold, it takes me back to an era ireland were well where we had presidents clubs and speakers clubs and -- an era i remember well. clubswe had presidents and speakers clubs and we had a menu of access, get $10,000 for a one-on-one with the speaker. leads down aney
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dangerous path that becomes even more dangerous when we do not have disclosure of who is involved with a lot of contributions. and frankly the notion that mccutcheon will enhance disclosure was blown out of the water by justice breyer's compelling dissent. and what we have already seen happening within a day after mccutcheon being passed, high-priced lawyers, some of whom are in this room, working feverishly to make sure these contributions get channeled through multiple committees in different ways so we will not have any effective disclosure. me end with a few recommendations for the committee or for what congress could do. , congress should make every effort to pass the disclose act. let's get some reasonable disclosure. second, the senate should hold public hearings and this committee on the dysfunctional federal election commission and look to reform it to make it a reasonably functional body that acts to enforce the law, not for
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it. third, for every hearing that we see on the purported scandal at the irs scandal which is trying to apply the law that says organizations called 501(c) four's should be social welfare organizations, we should have a hearing on the real meaning of social welfare organizations and the need to clarify this. fourth, the senate should pass a rule amending the ethics code to make it a violation for senators or senior staffers to solicit the large contributions for party committees now allowed under mccutcheon. next, you should consider the broader reform of the campaign finance system, and i'm delighted there will be a vote on senator udall's constitutional amendment. we need -- we have a lot of work and heavy lifting to do. the next huge scandal is going to bring about a new drive for reform, but before that i fear things will get worse. thank you.
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>> thank you, sir. >> mr. chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. senator roberts, senator udall, i appreciate the opportunity to be here to talk about these important issues. i know, mr. chairman, that you have said that you'd like the focus to be on the mccutcheon case and issue of disclosure and lack of disclosure. i would make two brief points in response to testimony and comments today about the mccain feingold law. first, i was pleased to see the endorsement by my colleagues on this panel, mr. mcgahn and mr. reiff, in their written testimony today of the mccain-feingold coal of prohibiting "six and seven figure contributions" to national party committees, quote, in exchange for access to executive branch personnel as well as members of congress. i agree such huge contributions were and are potentially corrupting and give rise to the
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appearance of corruption. and thus are bad for our democracy. i worry that they will resurface after the mccutcheon decision through the device of contributions to party committees participating in joint fundraising committees. i also worry that the supreme court's majority in citizens united and mccutcheon does not share the same concern about a corruption inherent in congress where the executive branch mr. mcgahn,ss that mr. reiff, mr. ornstein and i do. my second point about party committees under mccain-feingold is that they have acalonone quite well financially. look at the picture of two elections, 2000, the last presidential campaign before mccain-feingold, and 2012, our most recent. in 2000 the two political
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parties and their presidential candidates raised and spent a combined total of $1.1 billion in that election. a huge sum. today adjusted for inflation that would be $1.45 billion. compare that to the amount speny the parties and their candidates, 2012, the total was $2.5 billion. double the actual amount, up 80% in inflation adjusted dollars. it is true that outside groups also spent significant sums in 2012, but the national party committees and their candidates clearly were well resourced, better than before mccain-feingold. in terms of disc lack of disclosure, my written testimony describes how we have ended up in a situation where the supreme court stated in citizens united that the importance to our democracy of full disclosure of the sources
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of campaign funding, but we have less and less of it. my written testimony says that the f.e.c. has deadlocked repeatedly on whether to issue a notice of proposed rule making to deal with the question of disclosure after citizens united. that is correct, the commission appears to still be deadlocked on this issue. however, i would like to note for the record that the commission in late 2011 managed to issue a citizens united rule making notice that did not mention disclosure. the commission even had a hearing, but that is the end of the story. no new regulation, no action on disclosure. mr. ornstein's written testimony demonstrates how dramatically disclosure of the sources of funding of public advertising has fallen. in 2004, the first election under mccain-feingold, 98% of outside groups running campaign ads disclosed their donors. a few years later that number
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was down to 34%. in absolute dollars, the amount spent on advertising only 40% was disclosed as the course in 2012 by these outside groups. why is this a problem? let me turn to justice kennedy's explanation in citizens united. he said, with the advent of the internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. shareholders can determine whether their corporations' political speech advances the corporation's interest in making profits and citizens can see whether elected officials are, quote in the pocket of so-called moneyed interests. the first amendment protects political speech and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in
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a proper way. this transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages. so justice kennedy said the deal was, unlimited independent expenditures, but full disclosure of funders. today we have only half the deal. and as justice kennedy says, speaking for eight justices, that is a problem for our democracy. how can shareholders hold their corporations accountable for the shareholder money spent in political campaigns if they have no idea what is being spent and for and against which candidates? how can voters hold elected officials accountable if they do not know which moneyed interests are financing those officials' elections. finally, how can the electorate, voters, make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages, as justice kennedy says,
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something that the court says is important to the functioning of our democracy, if voters do not know who is financing the constant barrage of advertising run by these groups. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. potter. our next panel member is ann ravel, former chair of the california fair political practices commission and currently vice chair of the federal election commission. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member roberts, and senator udall. thank you for inviting me to testify today. as indicated i am the vice chair of the federal election commission, but i am not testifying in that capacity today. nor am i speaking for the commission. instead, my testimony concerns a case pursued during my tenure as chair of the california fair political practices commission,
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fppc, to expose dark money in a california election. fppc versus americans for responsible leadership and i'm going to use the word of the day, is a byzantine story of campaign contributions being funneled all over the country in an apparent effort to avoid revealing to the public who is behind political campaigns. we discovered that networks of nonprofits, anonymously injected millions of dollars into our election by using shell corporate entities, wire transfers, and fund swapping. this allowed donors to skirt disclosure laws and cloak their identities from the public view. just a few weeks before the 2012 election, a california political
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action committee, which was focused on supporting one and defeating another ballot measure, received an $11 million contribution. this was the largest anonymous contribution ever made in the history of california elections. the contribution came from an arizona nonprofit, americans for responsible leadership, or arl, which had never before spent a dime in california. after a complaint was filed with the fppc, we attempted to determine whether a.r.l. abided by the requirements of california law to disclose the source of the contribution. we eventually had to seek relief in court. the california supreme court ruled unanimously on an emergency sunday session that a.r.l. had to hand over its
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records. because of this the day before the election a.r.l. revealed that the sources of the $11 million were two other nonprofits, one based in virginia, and other in arizona called cppr. a.r.l. admitted that its it functioned solely as an intermediary to receive the money from the two nonprofits and funnel it to the california political action committee. this is a clear violation of the law that prohibits making contributions in the name of another. after the election, a full investigation found that approximately $25 million raised from california donors who wished to remain anonymous went to the virginia nonprofit and then was transferred to the other nonprofit, cppr.
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there was a tacit understanding that cppr would direct other funds back to california in the same amount or more through an intricate web of groups. after passing through multiple nonprofits around the country, $15 million was then returned to california to the original political committees to spend on the ballot measures. $11 million of that money was funneled through a.r.l. and $4 million through an iowa nonprofit. because of the fppc litigation that was pending, the remaining $10 million of the original $25 million raised from the california donors was not anonymously pumped back into the california election. the fppc, which is a bipartisan commission, unanimously leveed a
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record setting fine of $1 million, and also sought discoveragement from the recipient committees of the $15 million in improperly disclosed funds. the fppc's investigation and litigation demonstrates clearly that public officials from both parties can work together to uphold disclosure laws. but the story of fppc vs. a.r.l. also shows that dark money is a national problem that is best solved on the federal level. i would be glad to answer your questions about this case. thank you again for the opportunity to speak. >> thank you for joining us today. finally, neal reiff, as i mentioned, lawyer here in washington, and former deputy general counsel for the
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democratic national committee. >> mr. chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm here today as practitioner in the field of campaign finance law and i represent over 40 democratic state party committees. as a recent article explains, mccain-feingold has had a profound effect on state and local party committees. i would like to provide examples that illustrate how the law is federalized, most of the state party activities in connection with state and local elections. as mr. mcgahn said, it ought to be revisited. in our article, we agree national party soft money ban and limitation on solicitations, federal candidates and office holders achieve the goals to address soft money practices at the national level at the time of its passage. however, congress could have and should have stopped there. instead, with little forethought to its consequences, mccain-feingold extended its reach to state and local party committees, who unlike national party committees, were thoroughly invested and active in state and local elections. under mccain-feingold state parties have been subject to a labyrinth of investigations to seek to intercept all their activities and force them into the federal system, regardless whether those activities have any relation to federal elections or candidates.
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mccain-feingold federalized all elections through introduction of a new term, federal election activity. which subjected local activities such as voter registration to federal regulation. the implementation of this concept has proven rocky. when passed, it was claimed to be a narrowly targeted measure. defense of the law followed suit and minimize the reach of the new law. after the law was upheld, in mcconnell versus fec, supporters changed their tune and argued that the federal election commission, the agency charged with enforcing the law, was not reading the new mandates broadly enough. additional litigation ensued and .e.c. tonstructed the fa rewrite and broaden the rules. for example, under recent f.e.c. redefined definition of get out the vote, essentially all public communications undertaken by a state party committee, even those made totally independent of any federal candidate involvement, are subject to federal law.
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--ely by extorting the voter merely by exhorting the voter to vote for state or local candidate. therefore, if a party committee wishes to air a television or radio ad to vote for smith for governor, federal law may mandate this advertisement be paid for entirely or in part with federally regulated funds. prior to mccain-feingold, state law governed state and local candidates prompt today parties are governed by federal law, whereas a nonparty group could run the same advertisement free of such federal limitations. in addition, under the f.e.c. get out of that definition, -- get out the vote definition, if a party sends out a mailing on behalf a candidate and merely informs the voter on when the polls are opened, the location of the polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, federal law limits the funding of the mailed piece based upon provision in the mailer. even when it makes no reference to any federal candidate. it is common practice for state parties to avoid including such
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information in mailings in order to avoid federalizing those communications. simply put, party committees have been muzzled when it comes to their ability to inform voters of the most basic voting information if they want to avoid being subject to federal regulation. we cannot conceive of any policy justification that would support this. particularly when other groups who engage in the exact same sort of activity do so without such regulation. mccain-feingold has had other detrimental effects. its federalization of state parties has created disincentives for state parties that feature the entire party ticket. prior to mccain-feingold, it was commonplace for state parties to pay for candidates from the top of the ticket to the bottom. in addition, state and local candidates have bypassed party committees when engaging in advocacy and get out the vote activities to the incapability of federal and state law. the current structure of the law has caused a demise in state and local -- as in funding as sources seek out other organizations such as federal, state, and local super p.a.c.s who may spend money without any restriction on how
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communications are funded and how much information they can provide. the demise of parties have had serious implications. party committees have played a vital role in grassroots campaigning. historically, parties have been instrumental in delivering positive party messaging and increasing turnout in american elections through grassroots voter contact methods. what some may characterize as a single issue, outside groups have filled a void. although the activities are legal, it seems to be the opposite of what was envisioned by proponents of the reform. recently the association of state democratic chairs passed unanimous resolution at its meeting in november of last year that calls on congress and the f.e.c. to re-evaluate how state and local party committees are regulated. we have provided a copy of this legislation and recommendations made for your review. none of the proposals made advocate for any repeal of any contribution limit. seeksr, the asdc
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commonsense regulation that balances the need to have vital party organizations along with the need to provide safeguards against political corruption. although mr. mcgahn and i have a number of ideas and suggestions regarding changes to the law, we both believe any commonsense steps to help revitalize state and party committees would be helpful. i have a few example. refine and simplify the existing volunteer exemptions for grass root activities to make it easier to use and consider expanding them to other modes of grass root activities. repeal the mccain-feingold provisions that have needlessly federalized joint and nonfederal campaign activities undertaken by state party committees. modify the f.e.c.'s current interpretation of the existing rules to scale back the expansive scope that essentially federalizes all party stategning on behalf of candidates. finally, in-depth contribution limits to party committees. thelarly to the extent that limits on -- update those two
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reflect current modern reality. we can only touch upon the byzantine regulation parties are subject to. thank you for the opportunity to present our views. >> thank you. we'll have seven-minute question rounds. and i'd like to begin first the term byzantine has been used a couple of times. there's a -- this is a chart prepared by the center for responsive politics that is a chart of money in 2012. i think we are insulting the byzantines, frankly, by likening this to their conduct. this chart will be available in larger form, but it's illustrative of what's going on. i did a rough calculation, there is $3 million or $4 million flowing through these various organizations. they have come up with a name, a disregarded entity. that's kind of -- i don't know -- it's an oxymoron i would
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think. mr. ornstein, in preparing for this hearing to coin a phrase, my conclusion was, it's worse than i thought. we got a report just yesterday from the wesleyan media project, which is a very interesting project that doesn't try to track contributions because a lot of them aren't disclosed but tracks ads on television all over the country and attributes a value to them based upon -- estimated value based upon the air time in the media market. of course it's only air time. it's not production or other costs. but the startling thing, this is spending by nondisclosure groups cycle to date. in other words, to april 29. yesterday. and what struck me is the gigantic growth in these independent expenditures. that's what i meant in my opening statement. this isn't a little incremental change, this is a revolutionary
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change. and the same thing goes this is nondisclosure money cycle to date, this is outside spending cycle to date, and the -- these are the off-year elections. you can see between 2010 and 2014 an enormous growth, almost 10 times more. would you say that this is an accelerated problem and that's one of the reasons we should have to address it? >> it's an exploding problem, mr. chairman. i think what we have seen is a set of very often explicit efforts to try to hide where the money is coming from. it's not only through these -- i won't call them byzantine, bizarre sets of arrangements. and ann i think described very well how this can play out across many state lines. i only briefly alluded to the role of the i.r.s. in all of
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this. one thing that we know is that moving towards 2012 there was another explosion which was applications for 501-c-4 status from groups that in many cases, and we knew leading up to this, were moving into influence elections and were using that i.r.s. status simply to hide the names of donors. we know that american crossroads created another entity, crossroads g.p.s., and basically the head of it said very clearly, this is for people who don't want to disclose. lots of groups moved into there. the i.r.s. in a pretty ham-handed way tried to deal with this explosion by using code words. of course the reality is if you have a group that has the name party in it, and they say in their application that they want to influence elections, they should be registering under are should be registering under section 527 of the code. and now the i.r.s. is moving to try and come up with commonsense regulations that keeps these
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sham groups that are not social welfare organizations in any way, shape, and form from doing what the law intended. they are being attacked. >> we all remember the swift boat veterans for truth in 2004. that was a 527. but that required disclosure of donors. that as i understand it, that vehicle has atrophied and very rarely used. now it's the 501-c-4's which don't require disclosure of donors and that's where the money seems to go, is that correct? >> that's correct. some of the other 501-c's may be used as well. we know before mccain-feingold congress did move to try to require disclosure -- more disclosure from 527's. it's also important to emphasize what trevor potter put very eloquently into his testimony, which is so much of the problem here is not based on either the law or the court, which is very much in favor of disclosure. it's a federal election commission which has tried to
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redefine, take a pat moynihan's term of defining deviancy down. they tried to define disclosure down to make it even more difficult. that's a root of some of the problems. >> mr. potter, as i went back and looked at citizens united and mccutcheon, it was clear the whole holding was based upon a premise of vigorous disclosure. that's how the two courts justified eliminating the limits, but they posited a disclosure regimen that doesn't exist. is that right? think as an outsider one of the mysteries to the supreme court's decision in citizens united is the very is strong language by justice kennedy where he says, until today we have not had a system with unlimited corporate spending but full disclosure. and now that we have corporate spending allowed in federal
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elections, and the full disclosure, he goes on, as i quoted, citizens will be able to figure out who is spending the money. shareholders will know what the corporations are up to. the question is why did justice kennedy say that? i think the answer is pretty clear because he's looking at the law. he's looking at mccain-feingold, the bipartisan campaign act, which requires disclosure of the sources of spending of advertising if somebody gives more than $1,000 to the groups that are doing it, or if it's done through a separate group they set up for that purpose. >> before my time expires, the issue about disclosure is -- as i have heard it articulated, if people -- donors' names are disclosed they'll be subject to intimidation and threats, and those finds of things. disclosed they'll be subject to a intimidation and threats, and those finds of things. my old colleague from virginia
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law school, who i know as nino scalia, i now understand is antonin scalia, stand up for their political acts foster civic courage which democracy is doomed. in maine we have town meetings every spring. nobody is allowed to go to a maine town meeting with a bag on their head. if they make a speech, they have to acknowledge who they are. that's part of the information the voters need, it seems to me. mr. ornstein, what do you make of this argument that disclosure will lead to reactions and intimidation and threats? >> i agree with justice scalia very much. i must say, mr. chairman, as i have been watching the pictures from ukraine and you see these people not with bags but masks over their heads, it made me think about this a little bit. that there are societies where they try to hide identities. that's not what america's all about. and some of the discussion here that goes back to a case involving the naacp, is really not a very good mare parallel. it's one thing if you have threats of death and the like,
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but in a democracy where there is rough and tumble, and something that actually both senator roberts and senator cruz talked about, that's the nature of democracy, if you're going to be involved in this process and somebody's going to criticize you for it, there's nothing wrong with that. you have to have some reasonable limits, it is true. if you do have direct intimidation. but there are laws very much that guard against that already on the books. >> thank you. senator roberts. >> i would just like to reserve no one exercising their first amendment right to my knowledge is endorsing fire in theaters or pornography or noise pollution. and i suspect, however, that many on both sides of the aisle have characterized their opponents as stating noise pollution or conducting themselves with regards to noise
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pollution. the other thing i would and the other thing i would say is the exercise of free speech that one disagree was is not pornography, although we know it when we see it. when we put on our partisan glasses. nor is it necessary to label repeatedly to characterize those with whom you disagree as un-american. mr. ornstein, norm, the i.r.s. is not moving to promulgate the regulation that is were in place the exact regulations that were in place that some of us believe caused the problem with the i.r.s. trampling on the rights, and first amendment rights of some conservative groups, primarily the tea party. they are not moving because they received over 200,000 comments. by law you have to go through
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them. they have stopped. they have also stopped because senator flake of arizona and myself at least suggested to the new commissioner of i.r.s. that it might be a good thing to withhold writing the regulations until the finance committee of the united states senate, ways and means committee in the house and inspector general would get done with the investigations. problems like every other investigation with redaction and other things. we are persevering and trying to do it in a bipartisan manner, more especially with the senate finance committee. in so they have held off right you no and i think that's a good idea. i think once we finish the investigations, we can determine what actually happened. i have some feeling about that as to where that came from, and i think it came from more than a number of senators writing basically to the i.r.s. stating
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that they felt the activities of various groups were not in keeping with what they envisioned the provision to call for. but that aside i just wanted to mention that you reference the hatch act. yesterday it was announced that an f.e.c. attorney resigned for admitted violations of the act. according to relief from the you office of special counsel, the employee posted dozens of partisan political tweets, including many soliciting campaign contribution to the president's 2012 election campaign and other political campaigns despite the hatch act restrictions that prohibit the f.e.c. and other further restricted employees from such activity. the employee also participated in a hufferington post live internet broadcast via webcam at an f.e.c. facility criticizing the republican party and the presidential candidate of the republicans at that time, mitt romney.
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i think you can understand why reports of that major make republicans somewhat wary of the f.e.c. and their ability to regulate their behavior. are we to believe there are not others at the commission who shared these views but haven't been caught expressing them? and i mentioned you, norm, but that question is directed to ms. ravel, who i think could give - and better answer. although i am sure you can answer. >> as i indicated, senator roberts, i can't speak on behalf of the f.e.c. but i will tell you that the f.e.c. responded very quickly to that when it came to the attention of people within the agency. and understood that it was totally inappropriate behavior on behalf of an employee. and further there's been an investigation internally and there is no reason to believe that this is extensive or goes
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beyond anybody except this one individual who has since been terminated. >> that was my next question, you have already answered it. my question was in your experience at the commission are any negative views of the republican party widespread among the employees there or members of the f.e.c.? even sitting around and having coffee saying my god what are those crazy republicans doing now? >> senator, i -- or what robert's doing. >> i have never heard your name mentioned. >> thank you. >> at the f.e.c. >> at least i'm not part of that dark money scandal. >> no. as i indicated i was speaking on behalf of relating to an i.n.s. he dent at the -- case at the fppc, but in my six months at the f.e.c. have never heard any
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partisan communications by either employees or commissioners. while we all are appointed based on our party -- >> that must be one agency that's an island in the sun. mr. mcgahn what do you think about this? what was your experience in this regard? should we view this as an isolated incident or evidence of a broader problem? >> i saw the news and i was very troubled by it. when the f.e.c. has had issue, i think it's very serious. i think it certainly calls into question what many of the reform lobbyists have said for years, there is this idea of nonpartisan staff that can exist divorced from politics and provide advice and that sort of thing. that being said, what i can say is most of the folks at the f.e.c. played it straight. they show up on time. do their job well.
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they are committed to their job. they don't have an agenda. but there are some folks who seem to get a little carried away with themselves from time to time. i think that's troubling. the cure for this is one, hatch act. two, keep in mind what the f.e.c. is and what it isn't. it's not an independent agency composed of career staff. it is actually six persons appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. it's not a nonpartisan agency. it's a bipartisan agency. under the statute in order for the commission to take action t. takes four of six commissioners to confirm that. so staff get a little carried away, that's not good. but in my view the commission is then -- this is a reason why commissioners need to remain vigilant and exercise the power of the congress has given them under the statute to run the agency. the idea that commissioners want to delegate to staff and that thing i have never been a big fan of that. i think the unfortunate release
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that came out yesterday is evidence that my view of the law is found and that really it shows thed and it wisdom of the original system of the f.e.c. where the commissioners have to act in a bipartisan manner to avoid one party essentially targeting the other party. >> my time has expired. >> thank you. senator udall. >> we look similar. >> i'm awfully sorry. senator klobuchar, welcome to the hearing. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. hi two previous hearings including the joint economic committee. so i apologize for getting here now. i think this is an incredibly important topic. i thank you for holding this hearing. i thank justice stevens for his testimony and his support for constitutional amendment. i also thank my colleague here, senator udall, for his work in leading the constitutional amendment which i'm a
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co-sponsor. i'm very troubled by the recent supreme court decisions, mccutcheon decision extending the damage citizens united caused in my mind. i looked back, i was cleaning out a backroom in my house in minnesota last week, and found a bunch of things from my campaign for county attorney where, mr. chairman, we had $100 limit on contributions in the off election years, and $500 in the election year. i found letters where we returned $10 if people had gone over the $100 limit. i then thought of my first days, i found a bunch of stuff from the 2006 senate campaign where i knew no one to ask money from nationally. i literally went through my entire rolodex and i remember setting the all time senate record of raising $17,000 from ex-boyfriends. those days are behind us as we head into this new era after the supreme court decisions and i'm incredibly troubled by these decisions when you can have a few thousand people be able to give hundreds of thousands of
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dollars. i just think it destroys our campaign finance system. i guess i'll start with you, mr. potter. there's been a lot of discussion about what the real world impact of citizens united has been and how mccutcheon will affect it going forward. can you describe what trends or major shifts you see in campaign finance since the citizens united ruling and how mccutcheon will impact those trends in the future? >> yes, thank you, senator. i think the first trend which was noted in the chairman's question a moment ago is that contrary to what the supreme court said in citizens united, we are seeing secret spending. the court's assumption was that although we would have new sources of spending, corporations, and then unions, that it would be disclosed and that shareholders and citizens would know who was speaking, could evaluate that speech. and that's what's not happening
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now. because of the f.e.c.'s position on what has to be disclosed, because of this proliferation of tax exempt groups that do not disclose their donors, we have ended up with a parallel avenue of spending in elections so that essentially if someone wants to influence an election, if they are being solicited for money, the first question is, am i willing to have my spending disclosed, or not? and if not, then you look at all these vehicles that are available to spend the same money to run the same ads, but not have it being a matter of public record so that -- >> i remember the $99 contributions in my $100 race for county attorney. i know that. but this is taking it to a whole different level as you point out when there is no disclosure. and the effect that will have. i guess the other question, you
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took this even a step further mr. ornstein when you talked about how the definition of corruption is so narrow in the supreme court case. it says, that we can only regulate donations to prevent actual quid pro quo bribery. why do think this is problematic and should we be able to regulate this? >> first of all let me say you were a great county attorney. beyond that i -- anybody i think who has been around the political process at all knows what happens when you have money intersect with power. and the many ways, indirect and otherwise, that you get corrupting influences. i have had some your colleagues tell me in the aftermath, not just of citizens united but what i think was an equally corrosive decision speech now that followed that created the explosion of the super p.a.c.s and other ways, say they are visit bide somebody who says i'm representing americans for a
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better america. and they've got more money than god. pouring in $10 million in the final two weeks of the campaign to destroy somebody, that's easy. they really want this amendment. and i don't know what will happen if somebody opposes them, but that's the reality. they leave. and human beings are going to think it's one little amendment. or we'll think, i better raise $10 million not just what i need for my campaign, but as an insurance fund just in case because i can't do that in the final two weeks of the campaign. that's just one set of examples. now in the aftermath of mccutcheon i can imagine a bunch of people coming in and waving checkbooks and sending each one of us has checks that can total $3.75 million now that we'll give to the hundreds of committees, joint fundraising committees, spread it around, and of course we'll have candidates we prefer. the motion that this will actually keep the individual limit is out the window. we will all write these checks,
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but there's one little thing here in the legislative arena that we want in return. you don't have to say it directly, it won't be on videotape. this is corrupting. we saw it in the guided age, and i think what justice kennedy and roberts have done in these decisions is open up a new gilded age. >> you being a political scientist, not just a campaign expert here, understand one of the problems we have had people so polarized, whatever special interest is to the left or right, one of the things i'm worried about as i looked at this mccutcheon decision, even more than the independent expenditures, is that it will just play to the polls t will make it even harder for people to do things in the middle where they have to compromise and be able to kind of go in the face of some of the people from their own base, from their own party if they are just going to be punished in a big way by major donors. do you think there's any truth to that? >> i think you get when it comes
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to big donors, maybe four categories of people. two that represents the polls, and they are trying to use their money as electoral magnets. to pull people further apart. >> that's a good analogy. >> a third type they have pecuniary interests. they use money to make money. i'm frankly surprised we don't have more spending by big corporate interests in washington because it's the best investment you can make. put in $20 million that goes into funding of campaigns, maybe you'll get $1 billion contract out of it. we'll see more of that now. i think we are heading down a slippery slope of direct contributions by corporations to candidates. and then maybe you have a category of those who are just looking out for the broader public interest. i think that's a much smaller category than the other three. >> the last thing i'd raise, no question, maybe we can go back after you're done, this issue even when you're making a decision as on elected official to do what you consider to be the right thing for your state.
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maybe you have a lot of employees in a certain area and you think it's important or the right thing for the country, i think with the lack of trust with all these big contributions people still will look at it, even though you know in the heart you made the decision for the right reason, and they think you got money from these interests. i think even when you're doing it for the right reason, it completely breaks down trust from the public about why you're doing things. that's one of the major problems and i support this constitutional amendment. >> thank you. a couple of follow-up questions. in listening to this and thinking about these organizations that essentially are designed to disguise identity, the term identity laundering comes to mind. that's what's going on here. it's a reverse on the old idea of money laundering. ms. ravel, that was what was going on in your case. where there were donors in
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california who the money went to virginia to arizona back to california. it was all about laundering the identity out of that contribution. isn't that correct? >> yes, mr. chair. the initial request for the money in california was, if you want your identity to be known, you can give directly to a p.a.c. if you do not want your identity to be known, and you want to remain anonymous, it can go to this virginia nonprofit. and so the money that went to the virginia nonprofit was specifically for the purpose of not revealing identity, and it was then moved circuitously through all the other nonprofits for the same reason. >> mr. ornstein, thank you. that's the way it appeared.
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mr. ornstein, one of the situations is whenever you try to do something about an issue like this -- by wait i enjoyed -- by the way, i really enjoyed this morning sitting literally in the center between senator roberts and senator schumer, but when you try to do something, everybody thinks of it in partisan terms. does this advantage my party versus the other party, my candidate versus the other. this data i referred to that came out yesterday indicates that the gap, the red more conservative leaning groups, the blue are more liberal groups, and the gap between them is diminishing significantly. it's 85% or 90% conservative back in 2010, as you see here, still a big disproportion in 2012. the gap is now 60-40. hopefully both sides are going to realize this is a danger. this isn't a partisan issue to me. this nondisclosed money is a danger to the republic no matter
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who it favors one year to the next. as the old testament says if you sow wind you'll reap the whirlwind. i'm afraid people are saying right now today this benefits my party. but next year or year after that it could benefit the other party and that's why i think we need to make a change like this. >> it's interesting, mr. chairman, that before mccain-feingold you did have a bipartisan consensus on the need for more disclosure. indeed when congress was considering in 2000 requiring more disclosure of 527 groups, we had overwhelming bipartisan majority support it. one who didn't was the senate republican leader, mitch mcconnell. but what senator mcconnell said at the time was, he didn't support it because it didn't require enough disclosure. including what he said was a requirement for disclosure from these nonprofit groups. now what we think of as the
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501-c-4's. we have a very different attitude now. it has become more polarized. i don't see why disclosure should be a partisan issue at this point. i don't see why we can't cut through that. i do think that this is something where now that there are more avenues for money, people who have interests, and that includes the polar opposites as well on both sides, are going to start to pour more and more money into it. and in many cases they are going to try and hide where that money's coming from. one of the things we have seen is they will often use inappropriate vehicles, 501-c-3's, the pure nonprofits, to give grants of money to other groups that can go to other groups that can go to other groups that finally end up in a 501-c-4 that doesn't get disclosed. there are so many opportunities here to hide identities and hide money, how can voters figure out when a message is coming who is providing that message which is a requirement of context to know whether to believe it.
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>> one of the interesting data points in this study is that votes tend to put more credit to ads that come from these groups than they do from the candidates. even though they don't know who the groups are. the groups may be americans for greener grass, and voters tend to think it's not candidate ad. it must be more -- have more authority. but they don't know who the money -- who is funding americans for greener grass. i'm in favor of that. >> one of the things as well, we have talked and senator -- excuse me, just continue stevens -- justice stevens talked about a level playing field. one of the things that concerns me is the level playing field is moving very much away from the candidates of both parties and in a host of ways. candidates have to raise money in $2,600 increments, and groups that now can spend untold amounts that can pour it in at the end of the campaign when a candidate doesn't have an opportunity to answer those
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messages, have now, i think, an influence. it's not that money will necessarily be spent. the threat of spending unless something is done is enough. many cases we will see actions taken by government behind closed doors or by changing amendments that nobody will know about without a dime being spent under these circumstances as anonymous groups apply that threat. it's not a good way to run business in a democracy. >> mr. potter, i felt one of the most interesting moments today was when senator cruz said unlimited contributions and immediate disclosure. react to that concept. >> i think there are two different issues here. one is the idea of full and immediate disclosure, which is the one senator cruz talked about i believe in the context in fairness to senator cruz, in
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the context of contributions to candidates. the other is the issue of how much candidates should be able to accept as contributions or party committees which are comprised of candidates without citizens thinking that they have been bought. and that's been the debate really since certainly watergate where you had million dollar -- >> if you have full disclosure the citizens can make that decision. look, my candidate took half a million dollars from x, y, z, and i don't like that. >> they can. that is where we were in the early 1970's when there were million dollar contributions to the nixon re-election campaign. the reaction was something is being sold or something is being bought for a million dollars. the supreme court in buckley said, it is not irrational, it
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is common sense that people will believe that huge contributions are intended to buy access, influence, results and that people who take them are in some way being bought. so that's why the court in buckley said, it makes perfectly good sense to limit the size of contributions to candidates and party committees because of the perception, danger and perception that there is a transaction. so if you have an unlimited contribution that is fully disclosed, you still have the million dollars coming in. even the question i think will be for the justice stevens' question is, what about people who don't have a million dollars? they don't get to buy any access or influence? but that's been the justification for the contribution limits. the debate has been what size should they be? the assumption has been that
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those contributions will be disclosed and as far as we know they are all fully disclosed, but that the independent expenditures that the court allowed in the buckley decision, which the court said were not going to be corrupting because they would be totally, wholly, completely independent of candidates would also be fully disclosed. we have ended up in a way the worst of both worlds there which is contrary to what the court has said, they are not fully disclosed as we discussed or need not be, there is an option there. secondly, they are not wholly, totally, and completely independent of candidates, either. the court's assumption they can't be corrupting because candidate and parties will have nothing to do with them. but the reality is we have seen is that many of these super p.a.c.s created are created by former employees of candidates relatives of candidates, they are in many ways tied to the candidates, candidates have appeared at events for these, thanked donors for giving to them.
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they are not totally wholly independent as the court expected. so it's not in that sense they are not fulfilling the role the court thought they would. >> we have used the word -- this is the subject that hasn't come up today. we have used the word perception a number of times. i don't think there's much question and polls support this that this whole money and politics is part of what is turning off the american people to the process. it's part of what's undermining the confidence and trust in the system which is ultimately what our system rests upon. i think that's part of the -- it doesn't have to be a bribe. it just is unseemly and people realize that. it may be one of the reasons that our collective approval rating around here is below al qaeda. it just strikes me there hasn't been enough discussion of that.
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is the underlying distaste nor this whole system that is undermining trust and confidence in our government. senator klobuchar, you wanted to follow up? >> sure. i was listening to mr. potter so i'm a big fan of transparency, but i don't think in any way will it solve all the problems because i think what's going to happen, it's going to happen, i know it, certain people given certain states, maybe their entity or what they have done isn't as unpopular and someone else will give money in another state. they'll find a way. i think with good disclosure law they'll have to disclose, but i don't think it's going to fix the problem of the trust that senator king just talked about. as well as the amount of money that can be spent in the -- not just unseemliness, it's a thin line between unseemly and a bribe. mr. potter, what do you think? do you think disclosure is enough?
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>> as you point out if you get full disclosure you now know what's happening. will people like what's happening? that's a different question. it may well be that full disclosure leads the american public to say, only a limited number of people are being able to buy access, these campaigns cost so much that members have to spend coach time raising -- spend so much time raising money, and they are going to spend it logically with the people who have money. full disclosure doesn't get you everywhere. full disclosure is a start to a then fuller discussion of how do we want to finance campaigns? >> you think it's possible we need to do more than disclosure? >> absolutely. >> but i think that your argument would be that if you have disclosure then maybe that will more easily lead to other measures. >> right. my concern here, going back to the mccutcheon decision, my concern is that i think five justices in the court are in a position where they are saying
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congress, you can't do more. we have said disclosure is fine. internet disclosure is great. but unless it is bribery it's ok. so this intermediate area that the chairman talks about, it's unseemly, diminishes confidence in government, that used to be covered by quote, the appearance of corruption. the notion that congress could legislate as it did with soft money, not because there was proof of quid pro quo bribe riff -- bribery with people going to jail, but because of the unseemliness of six and seven figure contributions often solicited in terms of, as mr. ornstein says, join the chairman's club, have a breakfast meeting with the chairman of the x, y, z, committee. congress said you can't do that because it's bad for the institution and bad for public confidence in congress. and what i worry about is that five justices on the court are saying, too bad.
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you can't fix that. you can't regulate that. if it's not actual outright bribery, congress can't prevent that sort of activity. and that seems to me to be a crisis for this institution and public confidence. >> mr. ornstein. >> senator klobuchar, i want to add a couple points. when we think about corruption it goes both ways. one of the problems with removing all the limits is that the pressure on big donors who can no longer say with an umbrella of protection i have maxed out, being pushed to give more and more, or in some instances we have seen before being told that if they give to the other side then mayhem will ensue upon them in the legislative process is another part of this that's a very real problem. and then what i would also like to say full' give me permission is senator cruz said none of these reforms have done anything except increase corruption. i think it's important to set the record straight. in the sense that mr. potter
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talked about watergate and it led to a law that changed the way presidential campaigns were funded, and to me it's just incontrovertibly clear that for decades after we changed the presidential system so there were voluntary spending limits and public grants. we had a much cleaner and better system. it fell apart because we didn't adjust those numbers and it became absurd. there wasn't enough money there. and to be frank, there wasn't enough public support for public money in the campaigns. now i think you're absolutely right, senator king, that -- we have lots of moles that show it, thells that show it, sense that the public believes all of politics and particularly in washington is thoroughly corrupt, that citizens don't have much of a say here, that other interests are prevailing,
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is a corrosive -- has a corrosive impact on the ability of a democracy to function with legitimacy. and that these two supreme court decisions pretty much latently push that aside to me is a really troubling development. >> i'm convinced that it's not just -- perception issue but i think in minnesota where we had very strong limits at the local and state level -- i mention the ones i had for county attorney, it made a difference and it makes the difference in the kind of politics and it makes ability instability and the outcome. jesse ventura, for sure, because with public funds but it gave the citizens a say the -- we had the highest vote out -- voter turnout in the country because people have a better trumpet on the government and they don't see the big money at least at the state level. ravel, you that, ms. were talking about dark money and virginia and arizona and the casey worked on, one of the
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things debated the impact of these decisions on foreign entities being involved in funding. if you can do this from a two state and it is all hidden, do you think these decisions can make it easier for foreign entities to fund united states elections? what i don't -- >> i don't think there's any questions about that. one of the positive things about transparency and disclosure for all groups, regardless of their status, tax status or how they are set up, is that the public will know, or prosecutors would not some of the contributions are made you legally, and that includes foreign money. >> just last, a trust issue. under federal law, super pac's are not allowed to coordinate activities with candidate
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campaigns. i know you already have a smirk on your face, mr. ornstein. but there has been discussion about the fact that the organizers of some super pacs have had very close ties to the candidates they support. what impact the you think this has on the public's trust of government? you have presumed independence and then you see big funders standing behind candidates as they give their speeches, appearing with them at fund raising efforts, riding with him on their private planes and sitting right next to them, and then we have the idea which is infused in citizens united that because they are independent them these entities can give as much money as they want and we don't need to worry about corruption or the appearance of corruption, it's a big joke, frankly. to thank, as ive said, not just citizens united but speech now. >> thank you very much. youenator klobuchar, since
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brought up my independent gubernatorial cover jesse ventura -- >> is it true he once asked you to be his running mate as president? >> the answer to that is, true. >> i thought we should get it on the record. >> if you would like to say no to jesse, you are welcome too. it has been attributed to him, i think one of the most ingenious suggestions of the issue, he believes members of congress should have to wear jackets like nascar drivers with the sponsors on the jacket. only jesse would come up with an idea as creative as that. >> they would meet trenchcoats, actually. >> i want to thank all of you on behalf of the rules committee for your important testimony today. i also want to thank the center for responsive politics and wesleyan project for their help as well as fred wertheimer from common cause. who helped develop a lot of the background. this concludes the second panel for today's hearing. before we adjourn, i would like
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to ask unanimous consent that a supreme court brief written on the subject by senator mccain house be included, without objection, and the hearing record will remain open for five business gains for posthearing questions submitted in writing for our witnesses to answer. i would like to thank my colleagues for participating and joining us in this hearing, sharing their thoughts and comments about this important topic. this hearing of the rules committee of the united states senate is now adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> on the next "washington ," larry sabado talked about little tv ads. he wrote a recent article about of amount to be spent on as
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this year. talking about the effectiveness of sanctions as a foreign policy tool. and carla anne robbins will join us. and ever presented from civic enterprises take her russians about u.s. high school gym -- graduation rates. "washington journal" live on c-span every day at 7:00 a.m. eastern and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. >> a couple of live events to tell you about today. defense secretary chuck hagel is at the wilson center to talk about the future of nato. that is on c-span2 at 10:00 a.m. eastern. here at c-span at 11:40, president obama host german chancellor angela merkel for a joint news conference. later, chancellor merkel speaks at the u.s. chamber of commerce about u.s. german relations and the significance of the transatlantic trade and
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investment partnership. that is at 2:00 p.m. eastern. >> c-span's newest book "sundays at 8:00," a collection of interviews of some of the best storytellers. >> at the beginning of a war -- you are afraid of holding the gun but when we went into the first battle and we fought, and i shot somebody, it does something to you. -- it is very difficult in the beginning. after time went on, it became easy. it became normalized. in the context of war, you normalize the situation so you can live through it because if you don't, you actually die. >> ishmael beah, one of the unique voices from 25 years of our book notes and "q&a" number stations. the book is now available at your favorite bookseller. >> now, arkansas senator mark pryor on this week positive in
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his home state. he spoke on the senate floor for 20 minutes. ou, madam president. i come today with a psalm and a story. the psalm i want to read is one of the most nameous passages in all of scripture. in times like this that arkansas has been through, a lot of people go to ecclesiastes or job or one of the gospels, but i wanted to read psalm 23. "the lord is my shepherd, i shall not want. he makes my lai down in green pastures. he leads me beside still waters. he restores my soul. he leads me in paths of righteousness through his namesake. even though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no and you are with me -- for you
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are with me, your ride and your staff comfort me. you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. surely, goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. and i shall dwell in the house of the lord forever. 2014,, september 27, about 7:06 p.m., a tornado touched down right on the celine and polaski county line just west of little rock and stayed up on the grand about an hour across the arkansas river, crossed a little town called the weathernow -4,vice tells us it was an ef and that means that a wind speed of up to 190 miles an hour. 190 miles an hour. we lost 15 arkansans, madam
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president. we never forget them. we love them and their families and we will miss them, and it is a great loss to each and every arkansans and is in every american. alonia, helen grier of mayflower, jeffrey hunter of velonia, dennis laverne, glenna laverne, david mallory, robert oliver, cameron smith, tyler smith, rob at this tittle, rebea tittli, tory tittle and daniel watson. madam president, you c madam president, you can hear and see from the names that a lot of these are family members of a fewmbers communities in my state. i want to thank my colleagues first because many called and
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reese -- reached out in various ways. some covered meetings for me. in fact, senator jack reed from rhode island actually covered a military promotion ceremony, which was really special for him to do an special for everyone involved. so i thank him for that. and many of my colleagues offered to help. also we had people from outside of arkansas who reached out. i know our government has -- governor has fielded calls from a number of governors around the country, and our emergency management people have been reached out to by other emergency management folks. and another phenomenon has happened in our state. we neighbor several states will go on this -- through this before. one of them is missouri. i see my colleague from missouri in the chamber. people from missouri came down and help. people from oklahoma came down and help. we helped those estates and that time of need. it was so reassuring and so appreciated that those folks would come, the previous storm victims would come to arkansas
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and helpless. we really do mean that. we appreciate it very much. and of course, the federal officials, they reached out. i was in the car with our governor when president obama called him and that meant a lot. and they were able to work through some of the federal and state issues immediately right on the phone. that was great. of course, secretary jeh johnson called the governor and i talked to him that same day and he came in -- excuse me, he was trying to come in in the next few days and i hope he is able to make it. crake few gate, director of fema, came in the very next day, -- craig fugate, director of fema. of the things we recognize is just the work is just beginning. i see my colleague from louisiana. i don't know if there's anyone better in this chamber that -- more aboutout recovering from a widespread disaster. also, madam president, i want to thank and acknowledge the thousands and thousands of
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arkansans who made a difference. one of the underappreciated groups that probably do not get enough notoriety, but the tv weather people. as soon as the storms were in the area, they broke from the normal broadcasting and they went wall-to-wall coverage, and i talked to so many folks in mayflower and those areas and they said we watched on tv a we could see exactly where that storm was, and that is what saved us, because we knew what was coming. the sirens were going. i was at dinner with friends of mine in little rock and we heard the sirens and. the weather radio to walk when we turn on the television and watched it like everyone else. the department of emergency management has been off the charts good. there is a man there named david maxwell who unfortunately has a lot of experience with this. we have a system in arkansas that we call code red, and that got activated, and that works very well. elected officials, etc., they all came together.
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had firstviously responders that rolled in immediately. and that was great. from the national guard activated 54 guardsmen and they showed up and did their duty. it is so reassuring to the communities when they see men and women in uniform -- first of all, they know they have a lot of training and experience, and it stabilizes things. the other thing i noticed is when i pulled up there, there were police cars and fire trucks and everything -- it seems like every jurisdiction in arkansas. so really, really great to see that. i know that one of the real unsung heroes is just everyday ordinary arkansans, everyday citizens. they came in they brought their chainsaws and they checked their kids out of school to go help. they really streamed in to help. than other folks. too many to really mention. but some of the state agencies that underappreciated -- game and fish commission, forestry commission -- they have people there clearing the way and
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knocking down things. the highway department. utilities, always utilities. they sprung into action. even though power was down for a pretty good while -- i think we had about 35,000 customers are so that were without power for a little while -- but they got that taken care of and they got folks from other states to come in. we introduced our largest single electric utility -- brought people in from other states and other contractors going. one of the things i noticed, madam president, is the churches. the churches really are prepared for this. part of their mission -- i did notice that the state at this convention has what they call a mobile mass feeding unit, and in the first three days they said alone.t meals in bologna i don't know what they were doing in other places but it was great for the volunteers helping and the families to be able to
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going get a hot meal. salvation army and red cross, all of them really rolled out and help. senators and the chamber today, they have been through these tragedies before and they know the insurance industry rolls out that i saw lots of insurance folks with clipboard and cameras and all of these things. the wireless companies came and put up temporary towers because a lot of those were knocked down. sergeant stationed for folks. walmart, one -- the largest company based in arkansas, it came with truckloads of water, ious kindsnacks, var of donations, baby wipes, batteries, flashlights, whatever people needed, it seemed like walmart was there with a truck to offload and help people. and tyson foods is another one of our great arkansas companies, they have a program called meals that matter and they do three meals a day. i saw their trucks at the
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mayflower school where they were set up. i saw the big thyssenkrupp just sitting there and i knew everyone was staring around doing things out of the other trucks did i said, was that one? he said that one right there is full of ice. they learned from the tragedies and other things that ice is in short supply. so to keep things cold and to give people something cool to drink is very important. anyway, we could talk about this seemslong time, because those people and seeing what they have gone through -- i was there the next morning with the governor and a number of other people, the attorney general, and others, madam president, and it was very emotional. you talk to some folks and they are grieving for the loss of their loved ones or next or neighbor. i talked to one man who lost his mother. then at the same time, others are rejoicing to be safe and have their lives and the lives of their children. to,ow that one man i talked why think -- i never even got
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his name -- but i think you stationed at little rock air force base. he said he looked out his front door and saw the storm, and it was bearing down on his house and there was no way to avoid. he grabbed his kids, threw them in a bathtub and got some blankets and covered them all up. he said for about 45 seconds it sound like they had been f-16 in the house. to theey stop finally, blankets off, and at this point they were not in the bathroom anymore but they were in the garage. the roof had collapsed and they could not get out and before long they heard some neighbors calling for them and they were able to dig a tunnel and get those three girls out, and then he got out. just got out with scratches. but it is an amazing story of perseverance. day after thehey storm or two days after the storm, there is a little value, andtore tru-
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that building was shaken to foundation but merchandise was good and there. this was this man's entire career, his entire working life, right there in that building, a local hardware store. he was going to turn it over to his daughter one day. she was there with her children. they were getting the merchandise out and trying to get into some kind of storage facility to be safe while they rebuild. that is a real-life matter for them. so we tried to help there. outside with someone the curb of what used to be their home, it was just a pile of rubble. at first when you look at that, all you see is just debris. your i cannot even focus on him. you don't even know what you're looking at. then when you sit there and take a moment and look -- i look down and i saw, there is a ceiling fan motor. the blades were all gone but there's a ceiling fan motor. right there, i see legos. sink.ere's an upside down right there on the pavement, a
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family portrait as whether this family are that family or a family from a while -- from a mile away. we'll knows? nonetheless, a color photo laying in the middle of the street. the things ine of saw, madam president, as i stood there and saw what used to be a house and there was the front ame andnd the door fr it was brick and a stupid steps going up the house but there was no house there. all that was left was a door frame. that,u just think about you think about those people, the house was completely gone and they have to rebuild. i did hear a story -- i did not talk to people but a story was going around about some of the volunteers out there working about a family that survived and their dog survived. the way the dogs arrived was as the tornado was hitting their home, they actually grabbed the dog by the collar. he was trying to fly out the window or what was left of the onse -- they were holding
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for dear life and they hold onto the dock for his dear life and they made it. to a house with house was in there was is a concrete slab. that is all there was. you look at that, and you think, how did anyone survived that? but they did, in most cases. i went to a friend of mine's farm, a friend i have known for a long time, a really good guy, pillar of the community. i went to his home and i saw tha t he lost everything. he lost his home, lost all of his vehicles. --a metalig farm shop building -- and it has steel girders in it. i have never seen this before with a tornado, but when they lding, oft metal bui course, they built these girders to hold it up and then the siding stuff on the side of the roofing, all metal.
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and of course, this deal is twisted. and that is pretty bad. it takes a lot of force just to twist the steel like that. what i have never seen before is ,he fittings of the building the huge concrete balls where they dug a hole and fill the concrete with steel girders -- and this tornado actually picked up those balls out of the earth. themlly picked up and set down a few feet away from the big hole in the ground. that it is -- that is amazing amount of force, that is what an ef-4 does. it did not just knock down buildings, it obliterated them. and the beautiful thing about our state is it that not obliterate people's dreams. we talked to one woman who said this was my dream house. was that azing thing new phrase has been created out of this. we heard people saying it over and over, they call it arkan-
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strong because people in our state are resilient. people, strong scrappers. and part of being strong is to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and dust yourself off and do more that day and then prove what you've got and work for your family. but also one element about being strong is neighbor helping neighbor. we saw that in abundance there in arkansas. to be able to sit there in your hot yard with no worldly possessions -- it looks like your pickup truck has been beaten with 20 men with hammers just beating on it. if you were to just sit there, you houses in rwanda nothing left and you were to look at me and say -- well, it's just us. it takes a strong person to do that. well, it isone --
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just stuff. dotakes a strong person to that. these amazing people ever present, you know why i am very proud to be the senator. i am also proud of the senate because it wasn't too long ago that we voted for disaster relief in this body. we now have money sufficient to cover the us and other disasters. i wish i could say this is going to be the last one for the year, but everyone here knows as well as i do, it will not be the last month of the year. let me close where i started. let me just close with that psalm. shepherd, i shall not want. he makes me lie down in green pastures. there are green pastures as part of this. and our people, they have found those and they will continually be finding those as we go through this. he leads me beside the still waters. it is a very comforting thing. to be comforted right now. he restores my soul. one thing i looked up is the
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according to soul, webster's -- the nonphysical aspect of a person. it's a person's emotional and moral nature. the most private thoughts and feelings are hidden. of human attributes in that manifests as consciousness, thought, feeling, and will. soul.tores my he leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake. the though i walk through valley of the shadow of death -- and i can guarantee you, those people in arkansas know that they have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. it says -- i will see your no evil, for you are with me. your rod and your staff, they comfort me. you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies and anoint my head with oil. my cup overflows. i will tell you, the attitude of
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the people in my state is their cup, even though it has been a difficult week among their cup is overflowing and the blessings come. surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and i shall well and the house of the lord forever. and having that eternal perspective will get a lot of people through that. madam president, i want to thank you and thank all of my bestagues for all of the wishes and all the willingness to help and offers of assistance and all the things that make up the senate family, and with that, i know i have a couple of colleagues who are waiting to speak so with that, madam president, i yield the floor. >> defense secretary chuck hagel is at the wilson center today to talk about the future of nato. you can see that on >> in a few moments, today's headlines plus your calls, live on "washington journal."
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hosts germanma chancellor angela merkel for a joint news conference. >> and, in 45 minutes, the head of the center for politics at the university of virginia, larry sabato. at 8:30 eastern , we will talk about sanctions as a foreign-policy tool. later, we would take your
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questions about high school graduation rates. "washington journal" is next. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. >> mr. president, 19 months ago a terrible thing happened in benghazi. for brave americans were issue hasand the never been resolved. as each of the 19 months has an ensued, the issue of how this heinous crime was committed continues. the center for south carolina and i, a senator from new hampshire, have vowed we will never give up on this issue until the truth is