Ventura lends weight to finance reform

By P. MITCHELL PROTHERO   |   Jan. 4, 2002 at 7:34 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Adding his considerable weight to a knock-down battle, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura on Friday asked four Minnesota representatives to sign a petition calling for a vote on a campaign finance reform bill.

In a letter, Ventura, an independent, noted that the "discharge petition" needs only four more signatures to force the leadership to allow a vote on the bill.

The House GOP leadership has refused to allow a vote on a campaign finance reform bill introduced by Reps. Chris Shays, R-Conn., and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., leaving supporters in pursuit of 218 signatures on a discharge petition to force the vote. Currently, the coalition has 214 signatures.

Noting that four Minnesota members of Congress have not signed the petition -- Republicans Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy, and Democrats Martin Sabo and Collin Peterson -- Ventura said their support for the reform effort could supply the necessary margin for success.

"This is about holding our elected officials accountable," Ventura said. "We elect people to take the tough votes, not to hide behind procedural maneuvers and bicameral deniability."

The Shays-Meehan bill would bar supporters from making so-called "soft money" donations to political parties, which are essentially unregulated and allow larger contributions to political efforts than the typical campaign donations, which are capped.

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