Russ Feingold

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Russ Feingold previously served as a Senator for Wisconsin

Russell Dana Feingold, a Democrat, is a former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, having served January 1993 to January 2011.[1] Feingold is perhaps best known for his work alongside Republican Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), better-known as the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, which took the two almost seven years to pass. He is also known for his sole vote in the Senate against the USA Patriot Act and for being a consistent critic of status quo "free trade" policy, which has cost the U.S. millions of jobs.


2016 Senate Race

Ron Johnson defeated Russ Feingold by a margin of 50 percent to 47 percent on November 8, 2016.[2]

Dark Money Groups Spend Big Against Feingold

The race was notable for the massive influx of early undisclosed dark money that was spent to prop up Johnson, due to polling showing very low name recognition. This includes a January 2016 Marquette University poll that measured his name recognition after 6 years in office hovering between 30-40 percent.[3] Feingold accused Johnson of "outsourcing" his campaign to the Koch brothers.[4]

In June 2015 Feingold asked his opponent to to join him in the "Badger Pledge", a pledge to donate 50 percent of any outside ad's cost to the charity of the opponent's choice in order to limit outside spending. As of April 2016 Johnson had yet to respond.[5]

”Better Way”

First Ad 72 Counties "Listening Tour"

As part of his campaign, Feingold went on a "listening tour" across all 72 counties in Wisconsin. As a U.S. Senator, Feingold kept a pledge to hold a listening session in each county each year. [6]

"72 Counties"

On April 11, 2016 Feingold launched his first ad, "72 Counties," a TV spot highlighting his listening tour. In the ad, Feingold said, "if you’re going to represent people, you don’t tell them what they think. You go out and listen to them. That’s how it starts.”

Johnson prefers to hold "telephonic" town hall meetings, rarely holding public events.[7]

Budget Plan

On April 25, 2016 Russ Feingold released what his campaign called the Fiscal Fitness Plan. The Plan focused on five areas of reform: Paygo, spending cuts, government reform, tax reform, and ending partisan gridlock in budgeting. Among the reforms proposed in the Fiscal Fitness Plan Feingold calls for ending automatic pay raises for members of Congress, biennial budgeting, eliminating preferential subsidies for oil and tobacco companies, selling off the TVA electric power assets, reducing the size of the federal fleet, allowing Medicare to negotiate better drug price and reforming Wall Street.[8] The plan is a reflection of Feingold's 1992 82 point plan to trim the federal budget, developed with the assistance of Feingold's top aide Sumner Slichter.

Outside Spending In Support of Feingold

For Outside spending attacking Feingold and supporting Johnson, see Ron Johnson's page in Sourcewatch.

League of Conservation Voters Spends Big, Attacks Johnson's Record

LCV: "Where"

The League of Conservation Voters, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit supported Feingold's 2016 Senate campaign by running attack ads on Johnson.

LCV Victory, the League of Conservation Voters' super PAC, announced a $530,000 ad campaign on October 31, 2016. The super PAC renewed three of its earlier ads targeting Johnson for climate change denial and his ties to the Koch network and big oil industry.

On July 24, 2016 the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund and the Environmental Defense Action Fund launched a $1 million television ad buy titled "where." The ad hits Johnson on statements he has made claiming he does not believe the science on man-made climate change is settled, tying that position to contributions he has received from the oil industry.

On February 19, 2016 LCV released a $370,000 digital ad campaign on Facebook and Twitter targeting Senate candidates, including Ron Johnson. The ad reads "Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican: Wisconsin Big Oil." Attacking his Senate vote 14 on February 2, 2016 "to continue subsidizing fossil fuels" the ad claims that Johnson put big oil interests ahead of Wisconsin's.[9]

On September 22, 2015 LCV released a TV ad "lakes" urging the Senator to sign the Clean Power Plan. The ad claims that Johnson took "nearly $219,728 from polluters." PolitiFact rated the claim as "mostly true".[10]

On September 1, 2015 LCV along with EDF Action launched a $1.6 million advertising campaign in Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee targeting Johnson on environmental issues, specifically the Senator's opposition to the EPA's Clean Power Plan.[11]

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in July, 2015 that the League of Conservation Voters had spent $98,000 on satellite TV ads hitting Johnson on his record on carbon emissions.[12]

Senate Majority PAC

Senate Majority PAC: "Rigged"

Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC of Senate Democrats run by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced a $2 million ad campaign on October 28, 2016 targeting Ron Johnson. The ad attacks Senator Johnson for "working for Wall Street, not us" and voting for "tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas

Environmental Defense Fund Action Criticizes Johnson on Koch Ties

Environmental Defense Fund: "Cell Phone"

Environmental Defense Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of the 501(c)(3) Environmental Defense fund launched an ad attacking Johnson for his ties to the Koch brothers on August 8, 2016. "When the oil billionaire Koch brothers call Senator Johnson, what do you think they talk about?" The ad opens. Continuing to point out the Kochs' environmental track record in the state, the ad highlights "How (the Koch brothers) spent millions to support Johnson as he voted their way 90 percent of the time."

Documents filed with the Federal Election Commission show that EDF Action spent slightly more the $21,000 on digital/web advertising opposing Senator Johnson on July 25, 2016.[13]

End Citizens United PAC

End Citizens United PAC: "Greases the Gears"

A group supporting candidates working for campaign finance reform called "End Citizen United PAC" dropped a $1.25 million in ad to support Feingold on November 2. The ad slams Johnson for protecting $21 billion in tax breaks for oil companies.

Humane Society Legislative Fund Promotes Feingold as a "Friend to Animals and Wildlife Conservation"

The Humane Society Legislative Fund began a $400,000 TV ad buy for Feingold on October 26 according to FEC filings. The ad features a German shepherd talking about Feingold's record on humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation.

Koch Brothers' Freedom Partners Launches Attack on Feingold, Ad Retracted by Three TV Stations

Freedom Partners Action Fund: "The Real Story"

According to The Hill Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC extension of the Koch Brothers' non-profit 501(c)(6) Freedom Partners, launched a $2 million dollar advertising campaign targeting Feingold in Wisconsin.[14]

The ad, titled "The Real Story", focuses on the opioid over-prescription scandal at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin, featuring former secretary in the Tomah VA's mental health department turned whistleblower Ryan Honl. Honl claims that in 2009 Feingold received and ignored a memo from a union outlining the harm occurring at the hospital. "Russ Feingold ignored veteran's concerns while veterans were dying at the facility," He says. The ad closes with an emotional Honl claiming veterans "died at the hands of politicians who looked the other way."[15]

Revised ad "The Real Story"

Lin Ellinghuysen, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees and the author of the memo in question told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she made an error in marking the memo as being hand-delivered to Feingold. She said she made an assumption but that the deliveries did not occur.[16]

"Pulled" - Feingold ad in response to "The Real Story"

On May 10, 2016 lawyers representing Feingold's campaign sent a two page letter to TV stations in Wisconsin disputing the accuracy of the ad calling it "false, misleading and deceptive." Jonathon Berkon of the Perkins Coie law firm told reporters "this is not a question of interpretation. They are simply airing an ad where the central claim is just untrue."[17] In response to the letter three TV stations, WMSM-TV, WLUK-TV and WGBA-TV pulled the ad off of the air.[18]

The Freedom Partners ad's claim that "Russ Feingold got a memo in 2009 that outlined veteran harm at a Wisconsin VA facility and nothing was done," received a rating of False from PolitiFact on May 11, 2016.[19]

Previously, Ron Johnson was under media scrutiny for dropping the ball in the Tomah case. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Ron Johnson and his staff failed to report whistleblower Ryan Honl's complaints about the Tomah VA Medical Center to the U.S. Senate oversight committee, after claiming repeatedly they had done so.[20] Mark Nielsen, Johnson's veterans services staffer, had been in correspondence with and responded to a number of emails from Ryan Honl, "We have forwarded your information and explanation to the D.C. office and they will be sharing with the committee that overseas (sic) jurisdiction of the VA." At that time in January 2015, Honl said at the that he never heard back from Johnson's office--suggesting he dropped the ball.[21]

After the ads were pulled Freedom Partners walked back on the claim and starting talking about a new memo. According to the Wisconsin State Journal the super PAC revised the ad to show Honl describing a separate 2008 memo alleging that the center's chief doctor was over-prescribing patients and treating staff poorly.[22]

On May 12, 2016 Feingold released a new TV ad "Pulled", highlighting the inaccuracy of the TV spot released by Freedom Partners. The ad also attacks Johnson over his response to the Tomah VA scandal, claiming it was Senator Johnson who "failed" and "just made excuses" for not acting on a memo that his aides received.[23]

On May 18, 2016 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Freedom Partners Action Fund put up billboard ads in Milwaukee, Madison and Middleton attempting to link Feingold once again to the opiod scandal at the VA clinic in Tomah. The ads are part of a $2 million dollar campaign and are set to remain up for three weeks. The billboard allege that "Russ Feingold put politics ahead of veterans" and "When Tomah veterans needed help... Russ Feingold did nothing."[24]

Post-Congressional Career

After losing to Ron Johnson in the 2010 Senate race, on January 5, 2011 the Marquette University Law School appointed Russ Feingold as a visiting law professor for the spring semester.[25] During this time Feingold began working on and finished his book, While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era, published in 2012.

In 2012 Feingold served as a distinguished visitor at the Haas Center for Public Service at Standford University. According to the university "During his residency, Feingold will engage undergraduate and graduate students in a weekly discussion on current political issues, serve as a mentor to students and exchange ideas with faculty. He also hopes to deepen the Haas Center's relationship with its community partners in effort to bridge theory with practice."[26]

On July 10, 2012 Feingold was announced as Lawrence University's 2012-13 Stephen Edward Scarff Distinguished Visiting Professor. According to the university "During his Scarff appointment, Feingold will present guest lectures for the courses “Introduction to International Relations,” “International Politics” and others."[27]

Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa

On June 18, 2013 John Kerry selected Feingold to serve as special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa, an area afflicted by continuous warfare and often overlooked by American foreign policy.[28] The region includes Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern portion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the M23 revolutionary group had been waging civil war with governmental forces.[29]

Shortly after Feingold stepped down, a collection of organizations and individuals signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to appoint a new special envoy to the Great Lakes region "to continue the great work of Senator Feingold and seize advantage of the momentum that has been generated through U.S. engagement in this region of the world." The letter highlights the progress Feingold made while serving as the special envoy to the region: "since the appointment of Senator Russell Feingold as Special Envoy less than two years ago, the United States (U.S.) has played an increasingly central role in addressing one of the most enduring and serious humanitarian and human rights crises in the world in the DRC. The United States’ engagement was critical to the effective removal of the rebel group M23, elevating accountability as an essential element of a durable peace, and taking the lead in calling for timely and transparent democratic elections."[30]

Progressives United

In February 2011 Feingold founded Progressives United, a Political Action Committee aiming to "to combat the corrupting influence of corporate money in our elections and government."[31] The organization used a diversity of techniques to support Progressive candidates running for office. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Progressives United donated a total of $211,044 to 55 Senate, House and Presidential campaigns for the 2012, 2014 and 2016 election cycles.[32] Over this same period the organization contributed $111,999 to PACs and State Parties. [33] In 2015, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the organization had spent a half of its income on fundraising and staff. [34]

Senate Record 1993-2011

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Russ Feingold voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

McCain-Feingold Bill

Feingold is perhaps best known for his work alongside Republican Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), better-known as the McCain-Feingold bill, which took the two almost seven years to pass. In 2001, Feingold sponsored BCRA with Sen. McCain in the Senate and Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) in the House. Also known as the McCain-Feingold bill in the Senate, the BCRA banned "soft money" from being contributed to federal or state candidates and national, state, and local political parties. BCRA also prohibited non-partisan "issue ads" funded by soft money from corporations and labor unions - those referring to candidates for federal election without expressly advocating their election or defeat -- in the 60 days prior to a general election, or 30 days prior to a primary election. It also required the disclosure of sources of finance for "electioneering communications" in excess of $10,000 per year, and raised the legal limits of hard money that could be raised.

Main article: Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 The law was upheld in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Profile in Courage

McCain and Feingold were recipients of the 1999 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for their efforts to achieve campaign finance reform.

Bill Clinton Impeachment Votes

Senator Feingold was the only Democratic senator to vote against a motion to dismiss Congress' 1998-1999 impeachment case of President Bill Clinton. In a statement, Feingold said House prosecutors must have "every reasonable opportunity" to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Clinton should be removed from office on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.[35] Feingold ultimately voted against conviction on all charges.

Ethics Bill

On July 14, 2005, Feingold introduced a bill to the Senate that would ban lobbyists from giving gifts to senators and impose a $50,000 fine for violating the ban; force lawmakers to sign statements saying that lobbyists did not pay their travel expenses; forbid lawmakers from traveling on corporate jets; bar congressmen, staffers, and executive branch officials from serving as lobbyists for two years after leaving office; and require that lobbying reports be disclosed on a quarterly, rather than semi-annual, basis. The bill is the Senate version of a bill by Congressmen Marty Meehan (D-MA), who co-wrote the House version of McCain-Feingold, and Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). Neither version has yet come to a vote.

Public Financing of Elections

On January 30, 2007, Feingold, along with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) introduced the Presidential Funding Act of 2007 (S.436), an attempt to update public financing of election laws. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Raise spending limits for the presidential primary and general election.
  • Increase the amount of public matching funds available during the primary process.
  • Allow earlier access to public funds in the primary process.
  • Provide additional funds to publicly financed candidates who are significantly outspent by privately financed candidates.
  • Increase the check-off from $3 to $10 for individuals and $6 to $20 for couples.
  • Prohibit national parties from raising or spending soft money for party nominating conventions.
Main article: Public financing of elections (U.S.)

Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act

Sen. Feingold, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sponsored the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007, which would require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically to the Federal Election Commission. Currently reports are disseminated in paper form often long after they are initially filed, preventing voters from obtaining financial disclosure information in a timely fashion. On April 17, 2007, Sens. Feinstein and Feingold brought the bill to the floor for a unanimous consent motion. Upon asking for unanimous consent on this seemingly non-controversial bill, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) objected to the bill for an anonymous senator from the Republican side. This anonymous objection amounted to a senator placing a “secret hold” on the bill, effectively stopping it. Despite efforts to determine who the anonymous hold was, when the Senators attempted again to bring the bill to the floor for unanimous consent, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) registered another anonymous objection from the Republican side, blocking it again. As of yet, the bill has not been allowed to proceed.

Main article: Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007

Ashcroft Vote 2001

In 2001 Feingold voted for the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft. with whom he served in the U.S. Seanate.[36] This decision was not popular with his party, but Feingold claims that he voted based on respect for the right for a President to choose his Cabinet, not because of his own personal opinions on Ashcroft.

Iraq War 2002

Feingold voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

On August 17, 2005, Feingold became the first U.S. senator of either party to suggest a firm date for American withdrawal from the Iraq war, saying that he favored a complete withdrawal by no later than December 31, 2006.[37]

John Roberts SCOTUS Nomination

On September 22, 2005, during the hearing on Judge John Roberts's nomination for Chief Justice of the United States, Feingold became one of three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of sending Roberts' nomination to the floor for a full vote. He also announced that he would vote to confirm Roberts. However, Feingold voted against Samuel Alito in committee and on the Senate floor, the first time in his career that he did not support a president's nominee.[38]

Opposition to President Bush's Troop "Surge" in Iraq

In early February of 2007, Feingold, as well as Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) threatened to oppose a newly drafted nonbinding resolution opposing George W. Bush's plans of troop escalation in Iraq, claiming that the language of the resolution was "weak." Both senators, however, supported an earlier draft, sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.). The newer draft was the result of bipartisan discussion and compromise in attempt to ensure that the resolution would pass.

Main article: Congressional actions regarding President Bush’s 2007 proposed troop “surge” in Iraq

Iraq War Deadline Bill

After President Bush threatened to veto the supplemental bill calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised to support a bill sponsored by Sen. Feingold which would impose a strict deadline for U.S. troop removal. Specifically, it requires the following:

  • The president shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the following limited purposes:
    • Conducting targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
    • Providing security for United States infrastructure and personnel.
    • Training and equipping Iraqi security services.
  • The president shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq in no more than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this act.
  • No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.

On May 16, 2007, the measure was defeated in the Senate, 29-67.

Main article: Sen. Feingold measure to end funding for the Iraq War in 2008 (S.AMDT.1098)

When leaders in both chambers announced their intention to introduce funding bills without timetables for troop withdrawal, Feingold immediately criticized the decision. He stated:

"Under the President’s Iraq policies, our military has been over-burdened, our national security has been jeopardized, and thousands of Americans have been killed or injured. Despite these realities, and the support of a majority of Americans for ending the President’s open-ended mission in Iraq, congressional leaders now propose a supplemental appropriations bill that does nothing to end this disastrous war. I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks and that allows the President to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq."

Main article: Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress

2006 Censure Effort re: Wiretapping

Feingold favors censure for President George W. Bush in what Feingold terms "warrantless wiretapping of Americans on U.S. soil." In his statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On the Call To Censure the President on March 31, 2006, he stated:

"We can fight terrorism without breaking the law. The rule of law is central to who we are as a people, and the President must return to the law. He must acknowledge and be held accountable for his illegal actions and for misleading the American people, both before and after the program was revealed. If we in the Congress don't stand up for ourselves and for the American people, we become complicit in his law breaking. A resolution of censure is the appropriate response – even a modest approach.",[39]

Feingold has little support from his Senate colleagues. "Most Democrats are nervous, if not dismayed, by Feingold's election-year proposal," the San Francisco Gate reported.[40]

2007 Move to Censure Bush and Cheney re: Iraq War Misrepresentations

In July, 2007, Feingold once again moved to censure President Bush, this time also moving to censure Vice President Cheney and others. Feingold argued that censure would:

[Signal] that a co-equal branch of government stood up and held to account those who violated the principles on which this nation was founded.[41]

Feingold also argued that:

Censure is about holding the administration accountable. Congress needs to formally condemn the President and members of the administration for misconduct before and during the Iraq war, and for undermining the rule of law at home.[42]

Feingold planned to introduce two measures, one addressing the administration's conduct leading up to the Iraq war, and the other focusing on domestic issues like wiretapping.[43]

Main article: Feingold resolutions for the censure of George W. Bush

Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

When the Senate went to conference committee on the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 after the House passed similar lobbying and transparency legislation in several other bills, Sen. Feingold, who sought to extend the "revolving door" time period from one year to two years, asked to be on the conference committee to pursue those reforms. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denied Feingold's request. Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.), another major champion of lobbying reform, may be included in the conference committee, but his presidential campaign schedule may affect his ability to do so effectively. Many lobbying reform advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Democracy 21, Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters, aware that the make up of the conference committee would be crucial in determining the final outcome of the legislation, were disappointed over the announcement.

Main article: Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

Patriot Act 2001, 2006

Feingold was the only senator to vote against the 2001 Patriot Act, which, he said, infringed upon citizens' civil liberties. Many at the time predicted his political career was over, but a majority of Wisconsin residents had little problem with his vote. Later, as public opinion turned against certain portions of the Act, his vote became a major selling-point for his re-election campaign.

The Patriot Act was renewed in 2006. Feingold led a bipartisan coalition of Senators that includes Lisa Murkowski, Ken Salazar, Larry Craig, Dick Durbin, and John Sununu to remove some of the act's more controversial provisions. Feingold led a lonely filibuster against the act but several key Republicans, including Sununu and Craig, reached an agreement with the White House in early February 2006. On March 2, 2006, the revised Patriot Act passed the Senate. There were only ten "no" votes which came from Jim Jeffords, Feingold, Robert Byrd, Daniel Akaka, Jeff Bingaman, Tom Harkin, Patrick Leahy, Carl Levin, Patty Murray and Ron Wyden. ("Patriot Act compromise passes Senate, awaits House vote," The Associated Press, March 2, 2006).

Gun Issues

Feingold has a mixed record on gun rights and gun control issues, sometimes voting in favor of gun control legislation, while at other times voting to expand gun rights. In 2004, he was one of only six Democrats in the Senate to vote against reauthorizing the federal assault weapons ban. In 2002, he voted in favor of allowing airline pilots to carry firearms in cockpits. He has spoken out in support of the interpretation that the Second Amendment pertains to an individual right to own firearms, and in opposition to proposals for handgun bans and mandatory firearms registration. On the other hand, he has consistently voted in favor of bills to require background checks for firearms purchases at gun shows, and to require that handguns be sold with trigger locks. In March 2004, he explained his position in a speech on the Senate floor:

"I have never accepted the proposition that the gun debate is a black and white issue, a matter of 'you're with us, or you're against us.' Instead, I have followed what I believe is a moderate course, faithful to the Constitution and to the realities of modern society. I believe that the Second Amendment was not an afterthought, that it has meaning today and must be respected. I support the right to bear arms for lawful purposes — for hunting and sport and for self-protection. Millions of Americans own firearms legally and we should not take action that tells them that they are second-class citizens or that their constitutional rights are under attack. At the same time, there are actions we can and should take to protect public safety that do not infringe on constitutional rights."[44]

H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

On December 9, 2009, Senator Feingold was one of ten Democratic Senators to reach what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called a “broad agreement” [45] on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The discussion focused on abandoning or greatly narrowing the public health insurance option.

Feingold Seeks Strong Public Option in Health Care Reform

In exchange, people 55-64 would be able to buy in to Medicare and Medicaid eligibility would be expanded to people within 150 percent of the federal poverty line. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office released a statement on the compromise:

"I asked Senators Schumer and Pryor to work with some of the most moderate and most progressive members of our diverse caucus, and tonight they have come to a consensus. 
It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways: one, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices. I know not all 10 Senators in the room agree on every single detail of this, nor will all 60 members of my caucus. But I know we all appreciate the hard work that these progressives and moderates have done to move this historic debate forward. I want to thank Senators Schumer, Pryor, Brown, Carper, Feingold, Harkin, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson and Rockefeller for working together for the greater good and never losing sight of our shared goal: making it possible for every American to afford to live a healthy life. As is long-standing practice, we do not disclose details of any proposal before the Congressional Budget Office has a chance to evaluate it. We will wait for that to happen, but in the meantime, tonight we are confident." [2]

Reparations for Japanese Latin Americans

Feingold cosponsored The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act in the 110th Congress which would establish a commission that would determine the facts and circumstances involving the relocation, internment and deportation of Japanese Latin Americans.[46]

Main article: Redress for Japanese Latin Americans/ U.S. legislation#Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act of 2007

Committees and Affiliations

Wikipedia also has an article on Russ Feingold. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Biography and Background

Feingold was born March 2, 1953,in Janesville, Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in 1975, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He went to Magdalen College at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship in 1977, where he earned another Bachelor of Arts, and upon returning to the U.S. attended Harvard Law School, graduating with a law degree with honors in 1979.[47]

He was a Practicing Attorney in Madison, Wisconsin, from 1979 to 1985 at Foley & Lardner and La Follette & Sinykin. In 1982 he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate where he served until his election to the United States Senate.[48] In 1987, he joined the "Bowtie Brigade," a coalition of grassroots activists and local-level politicians who backed the presidential candidacy of Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, who would later become a mentor to Feingold during the early days of his senate career.

Senate Elections

Feingold's senatorial career began in 1992 with a surprising victory over incumbent Republican Senator Bob Kasten. Feingold, who had little name recognition in the state and was campaigning in a primary against a pair of millionaire opponents, adopted several proposals to gain the electorate's attention. The most memorable of these was a series of five promises written on Feingold's garage door in the form of a contract.[49]

During the primary campaign, Feingold unveiled an 82-point plan to eliminate the deficit by the end of his first term.[50] The plan, which called for, among other things, a raise in taxes and cuts in the defense budget, was derided as "extremist" by Republicans and "too liberal" by his Democratic opponents. Feingold also announced his support for strict campaign finance reform and a national health care system and voiced his opposition to term limits and new tax cuts.

On primary day, Feingold, whose support had shown in the single digits throughout much of the campaign, stunned observers by surging to victory with 70% of the vote. [51] With only seven weeks before the election, the momentum created by this upset win, along with support from people who came out to vote for presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, allowed Feingold to beat Kasten by 6% on election day.

During his 1998 re-election campaign, Feingold once again eschewed big-money campaigning, despite the fact that the National Republican Senatorial Committee had targeted him for defeat.[52] Feingold placed a cap on his own fundraising, refusing to raise or spend more than $3.8 million (one dollar for every citizen of Wisconsin) during the campaign. In addition, he placed the same limits on his fundraising that he would have faced under the McCain-Feingold bill. He refused to allow his party to raise any soft money to air ads favoring him and he requested that several special interest groups, including the AFL-CIO and the League of Conservation Voters, refrain from airing pro-Feingold "issue ads." His Republican opponent, Congressman Mark Neumann, also limited himself to $3.8 million in spending, but allowed soft money to be used in his favor by a variety of pro-Republican groups.[53] On election day, an extraordinarily strong showing in the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison allowed Feingold to win by less than one percent of the vote.[54]

In the 2004 Senate election, Feingold defeated the Republican candidate, construction magnate Tim Michels, by 12% (56%-44%), earning a third term. During the campaign, Feingold refrained from imposing spending caps on himself as he had in the past, and raised and spent almost $11 million. Although Republicans attempted to use that fact to paint him as a hypocrite, Feingold's records showed that more than 90% of the money came from individuals [55], that the average contribution was only $60, and that, once again, a majority of it was raised from Wisconsin residents. Feingold's victory was seen by many pundits as a vindication of the many controversial stances that he had taken during his second term, as it was by far his largest electoral victory thus far. Feingold even won many counties which also supported the re-election of Republican President George W. Bush.


Campaign Office
Russ for Wisconsin, PO Box 620061
Middleton, Wisconsin 53562


Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. Russ Feingold profile, The Washington Post, accessed January 2011.
  2. AP, 2016 Wisconsin Senate Election Results, Politico, December 13, 2016.
  3. Charles Franklin, NEW MARQUETTE LAW SCHOOL POLL FINDS TIGHT RACES IN WISCONSIN PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES, Marquette University Law School Poll, January 28, 2016.
  4., Feingold says Johnson has outsourced campaign to Koch brothers, out-of-state special interests,, June 3, 2016.
  5. Russ for Wisconsin, The Badger Pledge, organizational website, accessed on April 13, 2016.
  6. Feingold plans listening tour across Wisconsin, Green Bay Press-Gazette, March 3, 2015.
  7. Mary Bottari, The Kochs Make News as Voters in Primaries Threaten to Turn Races Upside Down, The Center for Media and Democracy, April 5, 2016.
  8. Russ for Wisconsin, The Fiscal Fitness Plan, organizational website, April 25, 2016.
  9. League of Conservation Voters, LCV launches digital ad campaign criticizing Sen. Ron Johnson for vote to protect fossil fuel subsidies, ad release, February 19, 2016.
  10. James B. Nelson, Environmental group claims Ron Johnson voted against carbon limits, took cash from polluters, PolitiFact, October 9, 2015.
  11. League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Groups Launch $1.6 Million In Wisconsin To Tell Ron Johnson To Stop Putting Polluters Profits Ahead Of Wisconsins Health, press release, September 1, 2015.
  12. Jason Stein, Environmental group targets U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 27, 2015.
  13. Federal Election Commission, Itemized Independent Expenditures, FEC filing, accessed August 10, 2016.
  14. Federal Election Commission, Independent Expenditures: Freedom Partners Action Fund Inc., FEL filing, May 4, 2016.
  15. Lisa Hagen, Koch network super-PAC launches ad buys in Wisconsin, Nevada, The Hill, May 2, 2016.
  16. Bill Glauber, Russ Feingold says ad blaming him for VA inaction is misinformed, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 20, 2016.
  17. Jesie Opoien, A guide to the back-and-forth between Russ Feingold's campaign and Koch-backed Freedom Partners, The Cap Times, May 12, 2016.
  18. Daniel Bice, Three TV stations pull Tomah ad critical of Russ Feingold, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 8, 2016.
  19. Tom Kertscher, Koch-funded Super PAC attack says Russ Feingold got 2009 memo about harm to veterans and did nothing, PolitiFact Wisconsin, May 11, 2016.
  20. Daniel Bice, Ron Johnson aides sat on whistleblower tips on Tomah VA, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 9, 2015.
  21. Aaron Glantz, Reaction to Tomah VA problems follows years of complaints, The Center for Investigative Reporting, January 15, 2015.
  22. Molly Beck, Super PAC backing Ron Johnson revising ad criticizing Russ Feingold on Tomah VA allegations, Wisconsin State Journal, May 10, 2016.
  23. Bill Glauber, Russ Feingold up with new ad on Tomah VA, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2016.
  24. Daniel Bice, Koch-group begins billboard campaign critical of Russ Feingold, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 18, 2016.
  25. Marquette University, Feingold joins Marquette Law School as visiting professor of law, news release, January 5, 2011.
  26. Joy Leighton, Former Sen. Feingold to serve as distinguished visitor at Stanford's Haas Center, Stanford: news, October 3, 2011.
  27. Rick Peterson, Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold Named Lawrence University Scarff Professor, Lawrence University press release, July 10, 2012.
  28. Steven Lee Myers, Ex-Senator Feingold Chosen as Special Envoy to African Region, New York Times, June 18, 2013.
  29. Malcolm Webb, Thousands flee renewed violence in DRC, Al Jazeera, May 18, 2012.
  30. Enough Project, Coalition Sign-On for Appointment of New Special Envoy for Great Lakes Region and DRC, letter, March 3, 2015.
  31. Progressives United, About: Russ Feingold, organizational website, accessed April 28, 2016.
  32. Center for Responsive Politics, Progressives United: Contributions to Federal Candidates,, accessed April 28, 2016.
  33. Center for Responsive Politics, PAC to PAC/Party contributions,, accessed on April 28, 2016.
  34. Dan Bice, "Russ Feingold's PAC funded fees, salaries for former staffers, himself", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 15, 2015.
  35. "Democrat bucks party line to vote with GOP in Clinton hearing," CNN, January 28, 2007.
  36. Ruth Conniff, " The Patriot: Could Russ Feingold's defense of civil liberties cost him his job?" The Isthmus, July 3, 2003.
  37. Richard Mial, "It’s time to think about ‘Iraqization’," La Crosse Tribune, October 31, 2005.
  38. John Nichols, "Feingold: Alito Would Be "Dangerous Addition" to Court," The Nation, January 24, 2006.
  39. "Feingold statement on Bush censure," Office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, June 4, 2006.
  40. Edward Epstein, "Colleagues cool to Feingold's bid to censure Bush," SF Chronicle, April 1, 2006.
  41. Klaus Marre, "Feingold calls for censure of Bush," The Hill, July 22, 2007.
  42. Klaus Marre, "Feingold calls for censure of Bush," The Hill, July 22, 2007.
  43. Klaus Marre, "Feingold calls for censure of Bush," The Hill, July 22, 2007.
  44. Russ Feingold, "Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold on the Gun Manufacturers Liability Bill," Office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, April 3, 2004.
  45. [1]
  47. Office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, "Biography of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold,"
  48. Office of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, "Biography of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold,"
  49. "Promises Made, Promises Kept," Feingold Senate Committee.
  50. "Russ' Accomplishments," Feingold Senate Committee.
  51. "Russ' Accomplishments," Feingold Senate Committee.
  52. Ruth Conniff, " The Patriot: Could Russ Feingold's defense of civil liberties cost him his job?" The Isthmus, July 3, 2003.
  53. Ruth Conniff, " The Patriot: Could Russ Feingold's defense of civil liberties cost him his job?" The Isthmus, July 3, 2003.
  54. "Russ' Accomplishments," Feingold Senate Committee.
  55. "Russ Feingold 2004 Senate Campaign Financial Data," Opensecrets

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