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Richard Piatt ReportingThe US Supreme Court recently upheld a ban on so-called "soft money" contributions to political campaigns. A loophole previously allowed candidates to benefit from contributions made for their candidacies, but in the name of their party, or another organization. The ban on soft money will affect races here and could change campaign ads you’ll see next year.
According to attorney Michael Bailey, who filed a friend of the court brief in this case, the change affects big money that pays for those kinds of ads.
Mike Bailey, Attorney: "There will be no more of these ads that tell a viewer to call their congressman and tell them they're doing a bad job."
Soft money showed up and became an issue in the race between Congressman Jim Matheson and John Swallow in 2000. For 2004, big money is already a factor in the presidential race.
While some say the High Court's ruling will purify the process, others claim the opposite.
Sen. Robert Bennett: “I think it will make my opponents at a disadvantage.”
Senator Robert Bennett opposes the measure, calling it unfair.
Sen. Robert Bennett: “This now will virtually guarantee the reelection of every incumbent. It will make it very very difficult for a challenger to raise money.”
Voters won't know how the law will affect the 2004 campaign until the season is well underway, but it probably will make some difference.
Mike Bailey, Attorney: "I think if the races were not going to be close, they will be closer. But they won't change the outcome of the race. I think in the close races it could make a difference."
Already, though, there are large organizations legally raising big money in spite the high court's ruling, proving the comment of one of the justices that money, like water, will always find an outlet.
One of those new groups is the 'New Media Fund', headed up by notable Democrat Harold Icces, which has already raised millions of dollars.