Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pennsylvania Needs Clean Elections, and you can Help!

Hello again, everyone.

While I was on the train today, I happened upon this article in the Philadelphia Metro. It was very refreshing to read it, and I would like to point it out to all of you:

My View: Time to clean up elections

By Thomas Keown

Imagine if the best candidate could get elected no matter how little money they had. Imagine if the best arguments and not the best lobbyists delivered the best decisions. Fundraising for next year’s presidential elections is at nosebleed levels. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are already shattering Democratic records, and Mitt Romney has practically bought television in Iowa and New Hampshire. A wit once quipped that “in America, anyone can become president — that’s just one of the risks you live with.” Not anymore. You need a fortune.

But at state level we have started making inroads into the money that decides which laws get made and which don’t. Clean — or publicly funded — election legislation has been passed in seven states with significant results. In Maine, 83 percent of senators are “clean” candidates. In the legislation’s first year, a woman was elected from public housing to the Senate, as was a fresh graduate. Neither had a bean and neither would have thought the door to politics would open to them without clean elections. Now Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants to see it at the federal level, too.

It’s a simple premise. Candidates qualify for funding by raising a specified number of $5-$10 donations varying by the office — more for gubernatorial races than for state representative, for example — and agreeing not to accept any private donations. The state then funds their campaign roughly equally to the average spending for the same campaign in the last two to three years. If an opponent is not a clean elections candidate and raises more, the state matches it. But there is no incentive to do so and the mad money stops.

The result is that the smart — not just the rich — can run, more time is spent on issues than fundraising and, once elected, you are beholden to no one. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has said she was able to provide prescription subsidies for seniors on the day she was elected because, as a clean elections candidate, the pharmaceutical lobby had no claims on her.

Opponents argue they don’t want their money spent on candidates they dislike. But that’s naive unless you don’t mind having your tax dollars continue to cover corporate subsidies and tax breaks to the industries with big lobbyists instead. Imagine your elected representatives accountable to you and not their donors. Imagine democracy.

For all the hype and demand we have for campaign finance laws, this would be THE law to help quell all of it, not just in Philadelphia, but in the entire state of Pennsylvania! I don't want to merely parrot the writer, but clean elections can, and will, ensure that we have not only the best candidates, but also an election process that is actually fair to all candidates running. I won't miss the obvious; if this law was in place, it would have helped me a lot.

So what I want to do is to begin to lobby to have this placed into effect here in the state of Pennsylvania. I want this to become a law within, at the most, the next 4 years, if not before the next gubernatorial election.

I will need help to do this. If anyone out there is willing to help me in this, please offer your tips and suggestions here! If you want to help me change this by offering your services, even better!

For more information, please go to the following websites:

Public Campaign:

Wikipedia Article on Clean Elections:

News on what is happening in Pennsylvania to make this happen:

With that said, I look forward to your replies, and together, we can make this commonwealth even better!

-Larry West

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