The Austin Chronicle

Campaign Reform, On the Air

By Michael King, October 1, 2004, News

"Our No. 1 enemy is cynicism," said Fred Lewis of Campaigns for People Monday morning, as he unveiled a new TV ad designed by the CFP to "drive people to our Web site" – – and encourage them to get involved in organizing for campaign finance reform. The 30-second ad features a cigar-smoking representative of the "big-money boys" delivering a contribution worth "a year's worth of wages" for most of us, and a fleeting vision of headlines announcing "the indictments coming down."

The ad release follows in the wake of the indictments announced last week by the Travis Co. district attorney, but Lewis says the ad has been in the works for six months. "As you know, I've always been confident that the evidence and the law [in the Texans for a Republican Majority investigation] supported indictments," Lewis said.

Lewis said CFP had enough funding to run the ads for about a week on cable TV in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio and that he was hoping to raise enough money via the Web site to expand the run, persuading people to sign the site's petition for reform. The aim is to build public pressure for campaign finance reform laws in the next legislative session, he said. "We need stronger laws and the will to enforce them." He said specific goals include clarifying the bans on corporate and union contributions to electoral campaigns, limiting the total amounts individuals can donate, and strengthening enforcement mechanisms like the Ethics Commission. "If we had the enforcement of murder or securities fraud that we have for campaign finance," Lewis said, "we'd be living in anarchy."

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