The McCain-Feingold Bill is a bill that was introduced to the United States Senate in 2002 in an attempt to reform campaign financing in the United States. The bill passed after some modifications and was signed into law by then-President George Bush. Provisions of the bill took effect in November 2002, radically changing the nature of campaign financing in America. Some people felt that the law did not go far enough, and they continue to advocate for additional reforms.
This bill has a long history, with the first, defeated, version introduced in 1995. Many refinements were made, with Republican Senator John McCain and co-sponsor Democratic Senator Russell Feingold stubbornly reintroducing the bill as frequently as possible. During the presidential election of 2000, campaign financing became a bigger issue, which increased support for the bill. This allowed it to ultimately pass, but not without a few key edits to its major provisions. Some critics felt that these edits may have allowed the bill to pass, but that they weakened it considerably.
Two key issues were addressed in the McCain-Feingold Bill, which is formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The first was “soft money” contributions, money that comes from organizations and groups, rather than political campaigns and parties. Prior to the passage of the law, soft money could be used in unlimited amounts to support political campaigns, with no government oversight.
The bill also took on issue ads, forcing campaigns and organizations to stand behind their political advertisements. Political ads in the United States now must include the statement “paid for by Organization X,” or “I'm Candidate, and I approved this message,” so that voters understand the source of the ad and the statements it contains. This provision was designed to curtail the rampant issues advertisements that were used to manipulate voters into choosing specific candidates or into rejecting others.
Despite the efforts of the McCain-Feingold Bill, political campaigns in the United States continue to be extremely expensive, and some people feel that the monetary contributions are not always entirely above board. Politics is a big business, and since many organizations and companies stand to lose a great deal in elections, it is perhaps not surprising to see these groups fighting for the right to contribute money and other forms of assistance to political campaigns.