Weekly Wire
Salt Lake City Weekly Democracy for Sale

By City Weekly staff

OCTOBER 13, 1997:  Utah's Sen. Bob Bennett is sure of two things: Bill Clinton is a scoundrel, and restricting huge sums of so-called "soft" campaign contributions somehow limits free speech.

Our junior senator, it seems, wants it both ways.

But before we get into what a crook Bill Clinton is, we ought to look at Bennett, himself. First of all, 25 years ago he was up to his eyeballs in the Nixon Administration's Watergate scandal. No, Bennett wasn't indicted. But he paraded around the edges of one of the dirtiest and most despicable episodes in U.S. history.

For Bennett now to insinuate that Bill Clinton is a criminal would be laughable if it weren't sickening, frankly.

Secondly, Bennett was recently fined by the Federal Election Commission for operating fast and loose with campaign finance laws. So his righteous indignation and his call now that Clinton should be hoisted for campaign violations leaves something to be desired.

Bennett, among other top Republicans, is spoiling for a special prosecutor to look into campaign irregularities that seem to swirl around the White House and the Democratic National Committee. But it wasn't too long ago that the same group, including the vocal Bennett, wanted a Whitewater special prosecutor, who undoubtedly would show how crooked Bill Clinton really is.

Well, here we are, several years and $30 million later. But special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has found nothing illegal to pin on the president. Why has Bennett been so quiet on this, lately?

Most of the Republican venom seems to date back to Watergate and Iran-Contra, where officials from Republican Administrations were found to have committed felonies. People like Bob Bennett just can't seem to get that out of their craw.

What to do? Get Clinton.

What Clinton is guilty of is raising a lot of money by selling his time and the Lincoln bedroom to fat cats willing to contribute to him and Democrats for access to those in power. Of course, this sort of thing stinks, if it isn't downright illegal. Still, the Republicans are guilty of the same thing and, in fact, sell their offices to higher bidders than the Democrats have.

In an attempt to strike at the cancer that has made our political system an ugly joke to most Americans, some Republicans and Democrats got together to try to eliminate "soft" money.

But Bennett says no. He wants the money from big corporations that the government should be regulating. He wants the money from special interests looking for special favors — the kinds of favors most Americans can't get. Bennett wants the big bucks that put democracy for sale.

It's what he calls freedom.

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