It is becoming increasingly clear that money is playing a critical role in the political process. In the 2008 election cycle in the 40th and 42nd District, encumbents received over 90% of the campaign donations from special interest PACs, and in a couple of instances it was almost 100%. It is easy to dismiss this and say those funds do not taint the political process, yet survey after survey shows people believe it has a significant impact on the political process. There are many potential ways to solve this problem. There have been efforts over the last few years to bring public campaign financing to state races in Washington, similar to Arizona and Maine. I have actively supported those efforts and have been a vocal proponent of public campaign financing as one possible solution to the growing problem. To date, the state legislature has been unwilling to make the committment to public campaign financing, but there is another solution I am advocating this election cycle. I am calling on all candidates in the 40th and 42nd District to sign a pledge that they will not accept any special interest money in the 2010 election cycle nor any subsequent re-election campaigns for those who win their seat this year. The best way to solve this issue is to simply say "NO."
Trust in the political process is currently very low. That should not be a surprise given that voters see candidates taking large sums of money from special interest groups and then working to enact legislation that benefits those same interests. Both political parties are equally culpable and although each side likes to cast stones at the other party, the fact is, both of them have the dirt of special interest politics covering their hands and faces. Our politicians can create a change in the dynamic by signing a statement saying they will not take any special interest PAC money, House and Senate Party Caucus money, or contributions outside of Whatcom County from people they did not have a connection to prior to running for office. It is time to restore integrity to the political process and it begins with those running for office. It is no longer sufficient to say everyone is doing it or it is just the way it is. Both are weak excuses from political leaders who do not know how to lead.