[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 38, Number 13 (Monday, April 1, 2002)]
[Pages 517-518]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002

March 27, 2002

    Today I have signed into law H.R. 2356, the ``Bipartisan Campaign 
Reform Act of 2002.'' I believe that this legislation, although far from 
perfect, will improve the current financing system for Federal 
    The bill reforms our system of financing campaigns in several 
important ways. First, it will prevent unions and corporations from 
making unregulated, ``soft'' money contributions--a legislative step for 
which I repeatedly have called. Often, these groups take political 
action without the consent of their members or shareholders, so that the 
influence of these groups on elections does not necessarily comport with 
the actual views of the individuals who comprise these organizations. 
This prohibition will help to right that imbalance. Second, this law 
will raise the decades-old limits on giving imposed on individuals who 
wish to support the candidate of their choice, thereby advancing my 
stated principle that election reform should strengthen the role of 
individual citizens in the political process. Third, this legislation 
creates new disclosure requirements and compels speedier compliance with 
existing ones, which will promote the free and swift flow of information 
to the public regarding the activities of groups and individuals in the 
political process. I long have believed that complete and immediate 
disclosure of the source of campaign contributions is the best way to 
reform campaign finance.
    These provisions of the bill will go a long way toward fixing some 
of the most pressing problems in campaign finance today. They will 
result in an election finance system that encourages greater individual 
participation, and provides the public more accurate and timely 
information, than does the present

[[Page 518]]

system. All of the American electorate will benefit from these measures 
to strengthen our democracy.
    However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present 
serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther 
than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just 
unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in 
connection with Federal elections. I believe individual freedom to 
participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when 
individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First 
Amendment. I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the 
broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide 
variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an 
election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal 
questions as appropriate under the law.
    As a policy matter, I would have preferred a bill that included a 
provision to protect union members and shareholders from involuntary 
political activities undertaken by their leadership. Individuals have a 
right not to have their money spent in support of candidates or causes 
with which they disagree, and those rights should be better protected by 
law. I hope that in the future the Congress and I can work together to 
remedy this defect of the current financing structure.
    This legislation is the culmination of more than 6 years of debate 
among a vast array of legislators, citizens, and groups. Accordingly, it 
does not represent the full ideals of any one point of view. But it does 
represent progress in this often-contentious area of public policy 
debate. Taken as a whole, this bill improves the current system of 
financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into 
                                                George W. Bush
 The White House,
 March 27, 2002.

 Note: At the time of publication, H.R. 2356, approved March 27, had not 
been received by the Office of the Federal Register in time for 
assignment of a Public Law number.