Dec 4, 2006

Ward’s alleged campaign finance reform bills die predictable death in lame duck session

It just boggles the mind that all Chris Ward has to do to get on the front page of the Daily Press & Argus is to write a letter. If I were at all cynical I would say this is just one more attempt to help clean up his record for his next run at political office. Has anyone from that newspaper ever asked him a tough question, and if they did ask a tough question did he answer it and did the response ever make it by the editors?

A package of bills pushed by Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, was approved by the House but is awaiting action in the Senate, where Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, has been reluctant to schedule it for consideration.
A spokesman for Sikkema repeated the senator's stance Friday that he won't bring the bills up.
But Ward argued that, with the lame-duck session under way, now is the perfect time to move forward.
In a letter to Sikkema and Senate Majority Floor Leader Bev Hammerstrom of Temperance, Ward urged action: "I commend you for your efforts to make this lame-duck session as meaningful as possible. This issue rises to that level of importance in my mind, and there is no better time than now when a significant number of members no longer have a vested interest in retaining the status quo."

This so-called "election campaign finance reform" package of bills that came through the committee Ward chairs does more to benefit his party than anyone else, especially HB 6128. It was the only bill in the five-bill package passed in the House last June that Ward actually sponsored, and it was also the only bill that received any opposition. In fact, it barley passed by five vote because it really benefits his party.

Rich Robinson, Director of the non-partisan Michigan Campaign Finance Network, said in published reports in June that the bill favors Republicans because they rely on wealthy individuals for contributions. He also said an individual who violates the law faces up to three years in prison and fines of up to $5,000 or both, but if a large corporation or company violates the law all they face is a fine of up to $10,000. Huge corporations like Enron, other energy companies and pharmaceutical companies that funnel huge amounts of cash to Republicans would have no deterrent to continuing that practice.

With just three session days remaining in the Lame Duck session, there is little chance the bills will even get to the Senate floor. Perhaps Ward should have looked at real campaign finance reform instead of putting on a show.

With Ward’s record of junkets, free meals from lobbyists, gifts to rich developers and doing the bidding of rich contributors anyone would have been suspicious when he pushed for alleged campaign finance reform.

Veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry was just one who was suspicious of his alleged campaign finance reform, writing, "Be still, my sloshing heart. Actually, my personal blood pump never even skipped a beat once I noticed that the sponsor of these bills was Chris Ward. That is the moral equivalent of Monica Lewinsky opening a charter school of chastity.”

After January we can expect to see a stab taken at passing some real campaign finance reform that benefits the people and not the Republican Party.

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