HIGHTOWER: Political Money And "The Handshake"

Frank MacConnell is not a household name, but he's an American hero to me because he is what America is all about -- ordinary folks willing to confront the powerful.Frank is just a citizen who attended a public meeting one year ago in Claremont, New Hampshire, that featured Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich together, answering questions from the audience.MacConnell made national news that day because he asked Clinton and Gingrich to stop their bickering and start cleaning-up Washington by stopping big-money campaign contributions from corrupting our political and legislative process. Right then and there, our two most-powerful political leaders pledged that they would make a bipartisan effort to pass a genuine campaign-finance reform bill, then they shook hands on the deal, for all America to see. That handshake was such a moment of promise and hope that the whole audience burst into cheers.A year later, the cheers have died, and so has campaign finance reform. Where did these two guys go, Gingrich and Clinton, who gave America their word?Well of course, suckers, they took your applause and went right out on the campaign fundraising trail, where they've been raising hundreds of millions of dollars from the exact same political interests that Frank MacConnell complained about at that town meeting. Indeed, on the first anniversary of that handshake, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans held a high-dollar dinner that pulled in eight million dollars from corporate lobbyists and fat cats, and President Clinton travelled to Las Vegas and California to rake-in the big bucks from some of the wealthiest people in America. Together, Gingrich and Clinton have raised more special-interest money in the past year than anyone at any time in U.S. history.Getting corrupt money out of politics won't be done by the politicians, but by people like us. If you're fed-up and want to help, call Center for Responsive Politics: 202/857-0044.

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