Financing Elections

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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.

About Craig Mayberry

Closed Account • Member since Jan 17, 2008

While writing his articles from 2008 to 2011, Craig lived near Lynden and taught at both Whatcom Community College and Western Washington University. He was active in politics and ran for public [...]

Comments by Readers

Doug Karlberg

May 01, 2010

Since 1990, the financial firms on Wall Street have contributed $638,000,000,000 to candidates running for Federal office.

Do you really think these folks are going to spend almost a trillion dollars and not ask Congress for special favors?

Do you really think Congress will not grant them special favors?

We are in a depression caused by reckless behavior in the financial industry, and the regulators were essentially paid to look the other way.

Are we ever going to solve serious problems as long as government can be bought?

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Sharon Crozier

May 01, 2010

I can almost hear that old Beach Boys’ song: “Wouldn’t it be nice if…”

Ask Diana McGinness (who is running against Rick Larsen’s $700,000 and growing war chest) if finance reform is a good idea; in fact, ask anyone who is attempting to challenge a party-backed incumbent—and they’d surely agree with you.

Problem is, the only way to get that kind of money and exposure is by gathering enough bucks to win is to take donations from Big Money. As Rick Larsen said, he’s against public campaign financing, mumbling something about it taking away from social programs. (Never mind that the money saved on payback earmarks to those donors would save enough to more than pay for campaign reform and actually increase social programs.)

That’s one incumbent’s excuse and he’s sticking to it. So, until we force incumbents to go along with saying “no” to corporate donors, serious challengers are in the trap of also accepting such money—just to get out the gate.

Of course, we all know that a good, pliable incumbent will also continue to be the biggest recipient of corporate money.

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