Missourians Press Finance Reform at Perot Conference

Article excerpt

SANDY McCLURE, WHO heads Ross Perot's Missouri organization, has a simple prescription for keeping tabs on Congress - "Follow the money."

McClure, of Springfield, led a delegation of about 50 Missourians to Dallas last weekend for Perot's United We Stand America conference.

In her call for campaign finance reform, McClure reflected one of the clearest messages from the Perot forces who gathered in Texas. And yet, despite their demands, no reform plan in Congress is moving toward final passage.

Why is this important? Because the Perot activists represent millions of ticket-splitting voters who can be counted on to throw their weight around in unpredictable ways if they stay mad.

Perot himself spoke impatiently of continued delays in Congress, one of which is the contention by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., that he must study campaign reform before setting up a commission that studies it further. "I couldn't understand why this took a lot of study," Perot said. "Studies and studies and studies and studies have been done."

Even before Perot's gathering, polls showed a startling level of estrangement between the people and their government. Three of four people do not trust the government right now, according to interviews with 1,000 people last month in a privately financed project called America Talks Issues.

The survey's fine print showed that 73 percent believed that government leaders "work for themselves," not those who elected them; 70 percent see government being run not for them but for the benefit of "special interests."

Perot's gathering of 3,500 agreed informally on drastic departures from the present system of money in politics. At the top of their list, many United We Stand members called for term limits for Congress - something unlikely to happen this century.

The Perot followers spoke clearly of their feelings when asked at a workshop on Sunday if they believed that members of Congress have a conflict of interest on the issue of term limits: 97 percent said yes. Many proclaimed that message on lapel stickers passed out in Dallas by John Thompson of Marshfield, Mo.

As part of their "Second Contract with America," the Perot followers also recommended:

Ending "soft money" - the millions of dollars in barely regulated money that flows to national party organizations.

Requiring members of Congress to raise most campaign money in their own districts.

Banning members of Congress, presidents and vice presidents from lobbying for five years after they leave office. …