Soft-money ban to profit PA

WASHINGTON: With soft money likely to be a thing of the past by the

2002 election season, public affairs firms are hoping to cash in

now.



If the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, which won approval

in the Senate earlier this month, becomes law, they are likely to emerge

as the conduit of choice for corporations that want their voices heard

in the political process. The bill bans unlimited donations from

corporations and wealthy individuals, or soft money, which accounted for

close to dollars 500 million during the 2000 election cycle.



'Corporations will have to be increasingly creative in their attempts to

impact the public-policy process, which should result in additional

opportunities for us,' said David Krawitz, president and managing

director of Powell Tate.



Jamie Moeller, managing director of Ogilvy PR's global public affairs

practice, agreed: 'The corporations, the unions and the individuals who

spend soft money are going to have to find other avenues, and work with

PA firms.'



However, some think the legislation does little to stop the flow of

money directly into the political process. Fleishman-Hillard regional

president Paul Johnson believes that the money earmarked for politicians

will continue to find its way to their coffers: 'The relationship

between money and politics is like water moving downstream. If you put a

rock in the way it will find its way aside.'



The bill must now pass the House before going to President Bush, who has

said he is eager to sign some form of campaign-finance reform.



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