ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator
2010 -- Reading Michael Hager in The Washington Post this morning (6/18/10),
"Congress needs a mediation tool to dissolve gridlock," notes
that we are going to extremes to solve simple problems. Hager recommends
"A political neutral service for legislative mediation" like
the Congressional Budget Office. I don't know where Hager got the idea
that CBO settles anything. But the problem is money.
of the Commerce, Space Science, Transportation Committee of the United
States Senate, I had learned in World War II that if you look out for
your men, they'll look out for you. I followed this rule until the Republicans
had a fundraiser for my opponent in my race for re-election, and all the
Republicans attended save Ted Stevens. Stevens already was my hero and
his non-attendance confirmed it. But I became immediately "partisan"
as concerned the other Republicans. They wanted to get rid of me, and
this made me feel likewise.
Money has not only destroyed bi-partisanship but corrupted the Senate.
Not the Senators, but the system. In 1966 when I came to the Senate, Mike
Mansfield, the leader, had a roll call every Monday morning at 9:00 o'clock
in order to be assured of a quorum to do business. And he kept us in until
5:00 o'clock Friday so that we got a week's work in. That meant you weren't
chasing money on the weekends, but stayed around Washington, partying
with Senators that differed with you during the week. Today, there's no
real work on Mondays and Fridays, but we fly out to California early Friday
morning for a luncheon fundraiser, a Friday evening fundraiser, making
individual money appointments on Saturday and a fundraising breakfast
on Monday morning, flying back for perhaps a roll call Monday evening.
This persists for six years.
Campaign Committees in the Senate guarantee partisanship. We have
party lunches every Tuesday, which is to help the party members
that are up for re-election the coming, or that year. All members
are constantly raising money for the other members, traveling, making
talks, so that you can get help from the Committee when your time
comes around. I always admired Bob Kerrey, the Senator from Nebraska,
who was a Medal of Honor winner. But when he helped me with a million
dollars as Chairman of the Campaign Committee in my last race, I
learned to love him."
Ernest F. Hollings
In my last
race in 1998 to be elected the seventh time to the United States Senate,
I had to raise $8.5 million. That factors out to $30,000 a week, each
week, every week, for six years. You don't start collecting money the
year before your re-election date. Rather, you are in constant fundraise
no way to raise $8.5 million in little South Carolina, so I had to go
to friends all over the country. That meant arranging trips during the
week to travel the country on the weekend. And $8.5 million also means
that you have to depend on the Democratic or Republican Campaign Finance
Committee. These Campaign Committees in the Senate guarantee partisanship.
We have party lunches every Tuesday, which is to help the party members
that are up for re-election the coming, or that year. All members are
constantly raising money for the other members, traveling, making talks,
so that you can get help from the Committee when your time comes around.
I always admired Bob Kerrey, the Senator from Nebraska, who was a Medal
of Honor winner. But when he helped me with a million dollars as Chairman
of the Campaign Committee in my last race, I learned to love him. I hear
he is taking Jack Valenti's place with the Motion Picture Association,
and I wish him well.
But back to the money. Schedules have been changed for money. On Washington's
Birthday, a junior member would take the floor and read Washington's farewell
address, but the United States Senate was in session. Now, we've merged
Lincoln's Birthday with Washington's Birthday for a ten-day break to fundraise.
And on St. Patrick's Day in March, another break to fundraise. Easter
in April - fundraise. Memorial Day break - fundraise. Fourth of July break
- fundraise. Month of August off - fundraise. Labor Day - fundraise. Columbus
Day break - fundraise. I've even had a fundraiser on Friday after Thanksgiving.
And we cancel policy committee lunches on Thursday to go over to the Democratic
headquarters to fundraise. Two little ladies keep you biting a sandwich
or your tongue, calling on the phone: "We've got to take back the
Senate." My tally showed that I raised $611 thousand on these Thursday
calls for Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina's candidate for the Senate in
2004. Money is the reason filibusters work. Both Republicans and Democrats
go along with filibuster threats. They never really bring out the cots
and require all night speaking. One Republican holds the floor for his
side and one Democrat for his side, and the rest of the Senators can go
to New York or California to fundraise.
Nineteen ninety-eight was twelve years ago. It takes more money now. I
told aspirants against Jim DeMint this year that they have to raise $4
million to $5 million before they get help from Washington. The Republicans
will easily put $15 million in the campaign to keep DeMint's seat. And
what was an $8.5 million race in 1998, has now become a $12 million to
$15 million race.
Today, the campaign committees in Washington look for a candidate not
with ideas or experience, but with money. I think one in California has
just spent $80 million in the primary. I remember Russell Long instituting
the dollar check-off on your income tax so as to finance "any mother's
son to run for president." Now public finance has become passé.
Obama's classmates went to Wall Street instead of law offices, and with
the internet and his classmates, he raised more money than Chris Dodd,
the Chairman of the Wall Street Committee. The need for money goes up
and up, and the very corruption that we tried to prohibit in 1971 and
1974 has been corrupted by the Supreme Court.
In 1971 and 1974 the Congress limited spending in campaigns so that no
one could buy the office. Maurice Stans' "cash and carry" campaign
for Richard Nixon alarmed us. We legislated a limit for so-much per registered
voter for the office in each state. I took the position that the Supreme
Court corrupted the freedom of speech by overruling the '74 act. In a
5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that Congress could limit contributors
in campaigns but not the candidates. We intended to limit both, but our
main concern was a candidate buying the office. To justify the decision,
the Court equated spending in campaigns with free speech. I know Madison
never intended his first amendment to the Constitution for freedom of
speech to be measured by money. Even The Wall Street Journal agrees with
me. Editorializing against an exemption for the National Rifle Association
on a campaign finance measure, The Wall Street Journal writes: "But
the First Amendment wasn't written to allow tiers of political speech,
with some speaker more protected than others." Madison never intended
the rich complete protection in politics with the poor limited.
Now in the Citizens case, allowing corporations freedom of speech, and
the Arizona case adulterating public financing, the Court has guaranteed
corruption. We'll have to go to my joint resolution to amend the Constitution
permitting Congress to limit spending in federal campaigns. We politicians
in Congress that ran for office - not pristine judges that had never run
for public office - knew the corruption that needed to be eliminated.
Congress has been playing games with the Supreme Court on campaign
finance for thirty years. We can stop the gamesmanship and "play
marbles for keeps" with the Constitutional amendment."
Ernest F. Hollings
to return to Madison's original intent. Buckley amended the first amendment,
and my amendment would return the first amendment to Madison's original
intent. I got a majority vote, but never the two-thirds necessary for
a joint resolution. Public financing doesn't prevent the rich from buying
the office, and only a limit on spending will stop the partisanship and
put the Congress back to work for the country rather than the campaign.
The Congress has been playing games with the Supreme Court on campaign
finance for thirty years. We can stop the gamesmanship and "play
marbles for keeps" with the Constitutional amendment. The amendment
is popular. The Governors' Conference called me immediately to limit spending
in state elections. Contributors are tired of contributing, and office
holders are tired of fundraising. When spending is limited in campaigning,
those in Congress will have time for the country rather than the campaign.
They can stay in Washington and spend time on the nation's business. Filibusters
will be limited. Lobbyists will be limited. Corporations will be limited.
Partisanship will be limited, and we'll be returning the first amendment
to its original intent. This is what Congress intended in '71 and '74,
signed into law by Richard Nixon, and Congress can do it again if it wants
to take care of the country instead of the campaign.
of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for
many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation
Committee. He is the author of the recently published book,
Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).
Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact
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Ernest F. Hollings served
the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South
Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of
Today, Hollings continues
to be influential in public affairs and offers this Web site as a compendium
of current and past positions on public issues. Learn
more about Fritz Hollings.
Hollings receives French honor
France honored retired
U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings on in 2013 by awarding him the Legion of Honor for
his World War II service. More.
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