SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Clean Money
By Craig Dunkerley



June 29, 2007
Friday PM

Dear Editor,

Representative Bob Roses raises several interesting points regarding public financing of campaigns which voters in Maine and Arizona dubbed "Clean Elections" and/or "Clean Money" over 10 years ago. Voters there were tired of the pay-to-play politics they saw in their states and wanted candidates to have the option of financing their campaigns with impartial, no-favors-owed, no-strings-attached (hence "Clean") money, supplied by "we the people," to help insure the fairness and integrity of their political process, regardless of what party they belonged to.

First Rep. Roses refers to public financing systems as "socialist-inspired," presumably because they're publicly funded. But all other aspects of our political process are publicly funded, up to and including his salary, his office space, his staff, and all his office equipment, not to mention the ballots, voting machines and other electoral mechanisms which made his election to office possible. Is all that "socialist" too? Last time I checked it was called democracy. I submit that fair and impartial public elections, of which campaigns are an integral part, are a public good, essential to a functional republic, which entirely justifies the miniscule investment necessary to fund political campaigns (usually from $3.00 to $10.00 a year per voter).

Next he ascribes a number of motives to supporters of public financing, most of which are simply incorrect. He says we don't like asking others for money or competing for funds. Neither is true since successful public financing systems all require candidates who choose to participate to qualify for public ASKING a required number of voters in their own district to make small qualifying contributions (typically $5) and sign accompanying petitions, while COMPETING with any other candidates who want to represent that same district. Then he says we fear that candidates may compromise their political beliefs or positions if they're dependent on private money to fund their campaigns. I'm tempted to say "DUH!" But in fairness to his assertion I submit that most candidates who become financially viable do so because the special interests that support them CHOSE them precisely because they were already sympatheitc to their agenda...which means candidates who don't share the agenda of wealthy special interest donors are never heard from. Lastly he says we think public funding will help level the financial playing field but that we ignore all the other ways in which candidates are not equal. We don't ignore all these other aspects or even suggest they should somehow be equalized. The FINANCIAL playing field is the only one we seek to level. After that each candidate has to sink or swim on their own merits.

His suggested alternative to public financing -- more immediate disclosure of who contributed to whom -- is fine as an additional reform but it doesn't get to the core problem: the inherent conflict of interest that exists when our PUBLIC officials are dependent on PRIVATE money for their political survival. As we've seen in the 30 years of disclosure laws since the Watergate era, all these disclosures tell us (assuming anyone ever bothers to search them out and read them) is who bought who this time...when all voters really want to know is that no one bought anyone...which is exactly what public financing of campaigns has proven to do.

Well crafted public financing systems have proven to work in Arizona and Maine over the last decade with candidates of all political persuasions participating more and more with each election cycle. The courts have repeatedly ruled that they're constitutional. And they're unbelievably inexpensive to fund (in the long run they pay for themselves many times over). If citizens are tired of the overbearing influence of big money and instead want government accountable to voters, and if they'd rather have elections that were about who has the best ideas instead of who can raise the most money, then public financing of campaigns is the proven solution and should be pursued in earnest.

Call Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell right now and urge him to approve the proposed initiative.

Craig Dunkerley
San Jose, CA

Received June 28, 2007 - Published June 29, 2007

About: "I am a small business man, and Southbay Coordinator of the California Clean Money Campaign."

Related Viewpoint:

letterReporting All Contributions More Important than Their Sources By Rep. Bob Roses - Alaska

Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor


Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for publication.

SitNews ©2007
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska