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September 1998 – Demonstrators Challenge Senator for Sale

For release September 22, 1998


On what could be the biggest fundraising day of his campaign, Senator Lauch Faircloth is being sharply criticized by campaign-finance reformers as “a master deal maker” who uses his office “to trade cash for legislation favorable to his donors.”

Tuesday evening in Greensboro, a list of heavyweight North Carolina and national business leaders will honor Faircloth as a “Champion of Free Enterprise.” Tickets cost up to $10,000 a table. Guests include actor Charlton Heston, who is chairman of the National Rifle Association, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is the leading opponent in the Senate to campaign reform.

Outside the Koury Convention Center, members of the N.C. Alliance for Democracy will display a huge sign reading “Senator for Sale Here” and posters attacking Faircloth’s opposition to campaign reform.

“Faircloth has a chance to clean up the money-driven political system,” said Warren Murphy, president of NCAD. “He could honor the desire of a majority of North Carolinians by supporting campaign-finance reforms in Congress. Instead, he’s demonstrated a willingness to use government as a tool to help his big donors get richer, while we foot the bill.

“That’s not free enterprise,” Murphy said, “It’s government handouts and special favors that give one group an advantage over another. The only competition is who buys the most influence over government.”

In a satire on Charlton Heston’s role as Moses, a robed and bearded demonstrator will deliver the “10 Commandments of Clean Money Campaign Finance Reform.” They include, “Thou shalt observe the principles of democracy and keep them holy” and “Thou shalt not lie down with pigs, polluters or the NRA.”

In addition, the demonstrators passed out a flyer itemizing some of the Faircloth’s alleged “deals.”

A report prepared by Democracy South, a Chapel Hill based watchdog group, described several cases where Faircloth took money from a special interest and performed some legislative service on its behalf. In some cases, the timing of the two actions reinforces the appearance of a “deal,” says the report.

One the cases was first exposed by Forbes magazine in 1997. Calling Faircloth a “Senator for Sale,” the story described how he changed a bill in Congress so the client of a donor-lobbyist could save millions on real-estate leasing fees, to the disadvantage of the landlord.

In another case, Faircloth received $35,000 from mobile-home manufacturers in the same month he pressured HUD to give the industry more control over safety and construction standards. In June 1998, he received $2,000 from the PAC of the funeral-home industry, and in July he introduced a bill to exempt the industry from minimum-wage and overtime-pay laws.

Citing various press accounts, the report says he has helped his biggest donors – banks – get regulatory advantages the savings and loan industry opposed. And he got $20,000 from the mortgage insurance industry in the month before passage of a bill that he held up until it was changed to meet the industry’s demands.

“This is government of and for the special-interest donor, not the people,” said Murphy.