WA Op-Ed Calls for Increased Disclosure at State, Local Level

Spokesman-Review: “Sen. Andy Billig’s bid to illuminate secret political contributions died in the last Legislature. But subsequent campaign shenanigans that threatened the Republicans’ hold on the Senate have drawn more bipartisan support for the idea.”

“In the meantime, the Legislature can do its part by passing SB 5153, which would force disclosure when campaign-related spending exceeds $25,000 in statewide races or $5,000 in local contests. This would expose groups trying to influence elections from the shadows, without discouraging the activity of small nonprofits formed as legitimate social welfare organizations.

“The Public Records Act and the Public Disclosure Commission are products of a 1972 ballot measure. Voters have made it very clear they support transparency and accountability.”

Report: NYC Public Financing Widely Used, Created Competition

New York City Campaign Finance Board report: “Candidate participation in the Program has remained extremely high, indicating most candidates feel that matching funds provide an effective way to fund their campaign.

  • “The general election for mayor featured Program participants from both major parties for the first time since 1997. The CFB paid $14 million to mayoral candidates, the most in Program history.
  • “The 2013 elections were the most competitive since 2001. In the Democratic primary for City Council, 38 of 51 districts had contested or competitive races. (Just 30 percent of state Assembly and Senate districts in New York City will have a contested Democratic primary on September 9.)
  • “Two Program candidates for citywide office defeated high-spending, self-funded candidates in the primary elections (Republican mayoral, Democratic comptroller).”

FL Writer on Tallahassee Anti-Corruption Reform, Bringing it to Other Cities

Jaconsonville: “It’s just that it seems somehow undemocratic for elections in a nation that honors equality and democracy — the value and power of the ordinary citizen — to be soaked, drenched in money, over merit and the competition of ideas.”

“The wonderfully idealistic Carla Miller wants an initiative in Jacksonville. ‘We need to study the impact of the Tallahassee charter amendment to see if it somehow changes the dynamics of elections. Maybe $25 won’t work, but they found they could get together, get 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot and get it passed within a few months.

“‘To get all those disparate groups together and pass a referendum, five months from the idea to the ballot, with the court fight, and then to win, that’s exciting for an aging hippie like me, to see people get a little bit of hope that they can affect local government. Citizens actually rose up and said here’s what we want and fought for it.

“‘I’ve given up on Congress; I haven’t given up on local government. Jacksonville can come up with something even better, more clever than what Tallahassee has done. What bright ideas can we come up with?'”

600 Communities Join in Stirring Call to Ban Corporate Personhood, Regulate Speech

The Nation: “In states across the country, voters signaled that they are ready to take the steps that are necessary to constrain the “money power” of billionaire campaign donors and corporate lobbies in order to restore honest debates, honest elections and honest governance.

“Counties, cities, villages and towns in Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin took up the question of whether the US Constitution should be amended to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which struck down century-old limits on corporate spending to buy elections.

“The demand was clear and unequivocal. While the questions on ballots across the country varied modestly, they all paralleled the message of the ballot question that earned 70 percent support in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin: “Shall the United States Constitution be amended to establish the following? 1. Only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not speech, and therefore, regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.”