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January 18, 2007

The First Billion-Dollar Election

Public financing of campaigns is an idea who's time has come. It's now the norm in states like Maine and Arizona, and a  comprehensive bill for public financing passed in Connecticut a year ago. Washington State is just beginning to seriously approach the issue by promoting "clean campaigns" for supreme court and appellate court judges. But what about our national elections? Is there any hope for cleaning up the elections process at the highest levels of government?

Devilstower has a post up at DailyKos that asks that question head-on. And he asks us all to contact Speaker Pelosi and let her know we think it's imperative that this Congress do the right thing for the integrity of future elections. The new speaker has come up with an ambitious agenda for Congress' first 100 hours, and good legislation has already been passed (stem cell research, raise in the minimum wage). A bill devoted to ethics in goverment was the first order of business and it, too, passed. Unfortunately it didn't go far enough. While it scraps the allowances of gifts, meals, and corporate plane rides paid for by lobbyists, it keeps intact the ability of those same lobbyists to contribute exhorbitant amounts of money to campaigns. The federal elections process is drowning in cash and the effects are realized in the legislation that is prioritized and passed. It used to be that a presidential candidate could get away with raising a cool $100 million. But that's past history -- say, oh, around year 2000. This next presidential election cycle is expected to produce a jerry-rigged system of pay-for-play that has yet to be witnessed. Here's what campaign finance experts are anxious about:

"I think we're gonna see multiple candidates raising $100 million this year alone," says Federal Election Commissioner Michael Toner. He points out that in the 2004 primaries, President Bush and Democrat John Kerry raised more than $250 million each.

"I continue to believe that the nominees of the two major parties will end up raising $500 million apiece in this 2008 race, so it's going to be the first billion-dollar election," Toner predicts.

Citizens can contribute only so much of their paychecks to these campaigns. The rest all comes out of the deep pockets of special interests. The power of that influence is completely out of balance, and it should be out of bounds. We have got to make our representatives understand that this corrupt -- and corrupting -- system cannot continue. Please contact Speaker Pelosi. Besides emailing, phoning works well (202-225-4965). And don't hesitate to contact your own Congressional representative. Our voices need to be heard in the next few days, because the First 100 Hours agenda will be coming to a close -- and public financing of campaigns needs to be at the very top of that agenda.

Posted by shoephone on January 18, 2007 at 12:36 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics, Taking Action | Permalink


I believe we just had our first billion-dollar election, did we not? I'd call 2008 the first billion dollar Presidential election, though.

I have to say, it pains me to see public officials quoted saying "gonna". When did we abandon the worthwhile goal of strong communication skills? *sigh* I'm a fogey.

Posted by: switzerblog | Jan 18, 2007 10:07:48 AM

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