Massachusetts' two U.S. Senators received high marks in a report issued Monday by Common Cause, a watchdog group which pushes for congressional campaign finance reform and less reliance on political action committee money.
The study's publisher, citizens' group Common Cause, reported that Kerry accepted no PAC contributions in a six-year period and that Kennedy took much less PAC money than many other senators.
Common Cause maintains that receiving large amounts of PAC money can make legislators vulnerable to manipulation by special interest groups.
"Kerry first ran for the Senate in 1984 and was the first in a crowded held to declare that he would not accept PAC money," said Kerry spokesperson Michael Meehan. "Sen. Kerry obtains his campaign funding solely from individuals," he said, adding that last year 45,000 donors contributed to Kerry's reelection fund.
Only three other senators--Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.), David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and Robert Packwood (R-Ore.)--have chosen to forsake PAC money completely, said Common Cause lobbyist Randy Huwa.
Fellow Massachusetts Democratic politician, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, won acclaim during the 1988 presidential campaign for refusing to accept donations from PACs.
Sen. Kennedy received only $360,766 in PAC donations from 1983 to 1988, a period that includes his successful re-election bid in 1988, according to this report. Most senatorial race winners received at least $1 million in PAC money during the 1988 campaign, said Huwa.
Among senators at the high end of PAC funding were Alfonso D'Amato (R-N.Y.), who received $1.3 million; Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who received $1.6 million and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who received $1.49 million.
Kennedy voluntarily has limited PAC receipts to adhere to limits proposed in Senate legislation, said Kennedy spokesperson Paul Donovan. Kennedy is one of the Senate's wealthiest legislators.
"Sen. Kennedy supports campaign finance reform and has fought for legislation that would limit PAC contributions," Donovan said.
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) has said that the campaign finance reform issue would be an important one on the floor in the coming year, Huwa said.
Mitchell would like to see spending limited and the importance of PAC reduced. "As it stands now," added Huwa, "approximately 30 percent of most senators' campaign funding on average comes from PAC dollars."
"No serious reform of the congressional campaign finance system is possible unless the role and influence of PAC money is dramatically reduced," said Common Cause President Fred Wertheimer. "Members of Congress must give up their dependency on PAC contributions and enact real campaign finance reform legislation in order to end the campaign money chase in Washington."
The Washington D.C.-based Common Cause, which lobbies for congressional campaign finance reform, studied a six-year period which contained three election years. The final report was issued in itemized form by state. Common Cause included all 50 states in their study and obtained information from the Federal Election Commission.