National Journal's CongressDaily carried an interview with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) today. In addition to being the Assistant Senate Majority Leader, Durbin is the sponsor, along with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) of the Fair Elections Now Act to bring public financing to congressional elections. As such, Durbin has been speaking out frequently about the need to change the way we finance campaign and spoke about it eloquently in the interview.
The end of the article (available to subscribers) is reserved for Durbin's call to Congress to take action beyond ethics and lobbying legislation (which was passed today by the Senate) to curb the influence of moneyed interests on legislation. Here's what he said:
Though Durbin is willing to play partisan hardball if he has to, he yearns for a substantial change in campaign finance law. He said that would allow politicians to worry about the quality of legislation, rather than its political implications.
The ethics reform [legislation] is important. I support it; ethics are important," he said. "But we need to take the next step. It's amazing to me how many of my colleagues come to me quietly, privately, and say 'I'm so sick of this I can't tell you,'" he says of the constant fundraising.
"Let's be honest ... Special interest groups move legislation on the floor. Maybe they always have. They do today because they fund the campaigns. If they don't fund the campaigns, then perhaps we look at amendments a little differently, bills a little differently, and make some decisions based on the merits, as opposed to the political merits."