John McCain


Two U.S. Senators who reached across the aisle to join forces in a bi-partisan effort to reform the way political campaigns are financed were the recipients of the 1999 Profile in Courage Award. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin were honored for seeking to address their respective party’s fundraising excesses and regulate the torrent of special interest money pouring into each party’s coffers. With the introduction of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, Senators McCain and Feingold worked relentlessly for radical campaign finance reform, especially a ban on “soft money.” Senator McCain’s position put him in direct conflict with his party’s leadership. Senator Feingold, during his 1998 re-election bid, refused all offers of “soft money,” although the legislation had previously failed in the Senate. Senator Feingold narrowly won re-election by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent. In March 2002, after years of protracted debate spanning several legislative sessions, McCain-Feingold, in the form of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, was enacted into law. Partisans continue to challenge elements of the law in Federal court.