Helped lead the fight for landmark ethics and lobbying reform legislation that will increase transparency in the legislative process by requiring disclosure of legislative provisions that are targeted to benefit a single company or limited number entities, prohibit gifts from lobbyists to Senators and their staffs, end subsidized travel on corporate jets, and slow the revolving door between Congress and the lobbying world. The legislation will also prohibit Senators from pressuring private organizations to hire individuals solely based on their political party, require disclosure when lobbyists bundle campaign contributions, and prevent new provisions from being added in the dark of night to conference reports without challenge.
Joined as an original cosponsor of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill in the Senate in every Congress until it passed in 2002. The legislation banned "soft money" contributions and spending by national parties and federal candidates and sought to require greater accountability and disclosure by sponsors of "issue ads" that mention candidates within 60 days of an election. The final legislation included Durbin amendments to make it easier for viewers to identify sponsors of campaign ads and to level the playing field for candidates running against self-financed opponents who often pour millions of dollars in personal funds into their campaigns.
Introduced far-reaching campaign financing legislation, known as the Fair Elections Now Act, which would remove special interest money and influence from congressional elections and help restore public confidence in our democracy by offering funds to candidates who agree to stop raising campaign money from private interests. The act would create a voluntary system giving candidates who can demonstrate public support in their state the option of receiving Fair Elections funding in lieu of the traditional sources of funding. The Fair Elections Fund would come from a spectrum-usage fee assessed on the revenues of broadcasters who use the public spectrum.