Ex-Lawmakers Push for Campaign Finance Overhaul

Daschle, shown here in his Daschle Group office, is one of several senators on the group. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new caucus of former elected officials — now freed of chasing money to keep their seats — is pushing for a comprehensive campaign finance overhaul.  

During an election cycle with an estimated multibillion-dollar price tag, the new “ReFormers Caucus,” launched by campaign finance nonprofit organization Issue One, includes more than 100 ex-lawmakers and other elected officials who are no longer running for office.  

The group includes former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri — both of whom operate K Street lobbying firms. Lobbyists are frequently on the receiving end of pleas from candidates to pony up campaign cash.  

Ex-Sen. Bill Bradley, the New Jersey Democrat and 2000 presidential contender, and former defense secretary and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., have also signed on. The caucus will officially take off Thursday at a 3 p.m. briefing in the Capitol.  

"More than 100 former elected office holders have joined together to sound the clarion call: Too much money in our elections has broken our democracy, and together we can fix it," said former Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., a leader of the ReFormer Caucus.  

“Anyone with experience on the campaign trail at the highest levels knows that most hours of the day are taken up asking wealthy individuals for funding, not thinking about what’s best for the American people,” said former Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, another member of the caucus.  

Organizers of the caucus say its members will push changes at the federal, state and local levels that will include calls for more disclosure of political money.

Correction 12:58 p.m.
An earlier version of this post misstated Chuck Hagel's party.