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Haley Barbour Criticizes Campaign Finance Law

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Powerhouse Republican fundraiser Haley Barbour today described the current campaign finance laws as a “bad system.”

The former Mississippi governor who now raises money for the American Crossroads super PAC and in the 1990s built the Republican National Committee into a fundraising juggernaut conceded that the system could operate better, and he discussed potential improvements. One of Barbour’s solutions: outlaw campaign contributions from corporations and labor unions.

“The system ought to allow unlimited giving by any person and then let the labor unions and corporations not give,” he told reporters during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The two organizations that you are limited in giving money to are the campaign itself and the candidates’ party. Those ought to be the two organizations that we encourage you to give money to.”

The law forces individuals to give “under the table” to political action committees instead of directly and transparently to candidates themselves, Barbour said. Still, he maintained that PACs have a legitimate role in the current system because they allow individuals to contribute unlimited funds to support a cause or a candidate.

American Crossroads, which has raised more than $100 million for the 2012 elections, supports Republican candidates.

Barbour also discussed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign. He described the former Massachusetts governor as “not that conservative,” challenging former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s controversial statement earlier this week that the GOP has little room for political disagreement.

“We’re a broad party. There are a lot of people in the Republican Party who are not that conservative, including our nominee for president,” Barbour said. “He was the least conservative of the serious candidates and he won the nomination with the party totally united behind him.”

Meanwhile, even before President Barack Obama’s announcement that he would issue an executive order to slow deportations, Barbour said at the breakfast that the Republican Party should do a better job of reaching out to Latino voters through changes to its immigration policy.

“We need a secure border for lots of reasons,” Barbour said, “and then we need to recognize we’re not going to deport 12 million people and we shouldn’t.”

Barbour advocated for a process for illegal immigrants to obtain work permits that would allow them to continue living in the country provided they abide by the law.

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