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Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2000

Campaign consultants find answer

KU’s Dole Institute hosts Campaigns, Consultants and Advertising Conference

May 4, 2000

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A political scientist and two campaign consultants said Wednesday at a Kansas University conference that they don't see much wrong with the U.S. system of selecting and electing public officials.

Sure there is room for improvement, but "we participate in a marketplace and we act in a market," said Martin Hamburger, president of Laguens Hamburger Stone, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. Like any market, they said, it fixes itself.

But asked what they would fix first, if they could, two of the three said the country could stand a dose of campaign finance reform.

"There should be public financing, at least in the form of free TV," said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington. "That's where most of the money goes."

"It think it would be good if they raised the limit on individual contributions to $5,000," said Neil Newhouse, a partner in Public Opinion Strategies, a suburban Washington consulting firm. "There should be more frequent campaign finance reports."

Currently, individuals are allowed to contribute a total of $2,000 to a federal candidate, half for the primary campaign and half for the general election. Candidates report contributions at a few set times during the election campaign.

The men were part of a panel discussion at the Campaigns, Consultants and Advertising Conference sponsored by KU's Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy.

As for Hamburger, he's ambivalent about campaign finance reform.

"As an individual, I'd like to see some," he said. "But to me it looks like the Republicans in Congress aren't going to let it through."

Hamburger primarily represents Democrats. His firm made the "Music Lesson" commercial that was credited for helping Dennis Moore win his race in 1998 against incumbent Vince Snowbarger in the 3rd Kansas Congressional District Race.

Thurber said there is a bipartisan majority in Congress blocking campaign finance reform.

"Don't ask us to police ourselves," said Newhouse, whose firm has worked for both Gov. Bill Graves and U.S. Sen Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "There's too much money in politics for us to change things."

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