The amount of money in politics is outrageous and it is corrupting our Democratic system.
Well, if you are in the oil business, or a part of the military-industrial complex, the health insurance business, or the pharmaceutical or energy industries, you like being able to give politicians campaign donations to buy favor for your needs. You know game; it’s called “pay-to-play” and in the process, we the voters get elected officials who open their doors and make their votes according to those who gave them the most money — not always in the best interests of the voters who elected them.
In the 2010 Election, Californians had a chance to set up a new way to change this game, for the better. The California Fair Elections Act, if passed, would have implemented a pilot project to make voluntary public financing available to Secretary of State candidates in the 2014 and 2018 elections. This pilot project is the same type of Fair Elections (Clean Money/Full Public Funding) system that works in Arizona and Maine. If Californians had passed this proposition it could have shown Californians that Fair Elections can work.
California Common Cause, The California Clean Money Campaign, California Nurses Association, and lots of other organizations and individuals supported and worked hard to get this proposition passed. But the voters didn’t pass it.
The Fair Elections Act will change the way we finance election campaigns so politicians stay focused on the job WE sent them to accomplish. It imposes strict reporting requirements and prohibitions on campaign spending for participating candidates. It ensures that only candidates showing broad support and agreeing to strict spending limits would receive public funding, but more than enough to run competitive campaigns.
Participating candidates would be prohibited from raising or spending money beyond the limited public financing and are banned from raising money from lobbyists, their clients or anybody else.
How will it be funded? If passed, primarily registration fees on lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers will fund The California Fair Elections. That’s right, and the amazing thing is, currently lobbyists pay only $12.50 a year for their state license… that is less than what a hair stylists must pay for their annual license. So if the Fair Election Act passes, lobbyist fees will go to rates compatible with other states fees and help fund the pilot elections for Secretary of State candidates who qualify in 2014 and 2018.
Voters are ready for Fair Elections — the elections that money can’t buy. In an October 2009 survey, likely June 2010 voters supported the California Fair Elections Act by a nearly 3-1 margin. Support held strong across all political parties and geographic regions of the state, with 65% support from Latinos,
Democrats, and Independents. Even Republicans came in at 59%, and when they read the opposing position for the Proposition the number went even higher. Folks, with your help, this is a game changer, a winner, and the type of Proposition where we can begin to take back our government from the special interests.
So go to Yes Fair Elections and sign up to show your support and help make the California Fair Elections Act a reality this coming June.
I look forward to your support.
Wayne Williams is a board member of VDU and Secretary/Treasurer of the California Clean Money Action Fund, the 501c(4) working to pass the California Fair Elections Act on the June 2010 ballot.
Reprinted with permission from the Valley Democrats United newsletter, Margie Murray, Editor, where the article first appeared.