Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A democratic election requires clean campaign finances

Money is both good and bad in a democracy - reasonably-sized donations, and also small donations, are good - they show belief in a candidate and broad participation in a campaign. Large third-party donations can be a problem though - there's an implicit sense of obligation between the candidate and the donor.

An equivalent or worse problem is with loans made by a candidate to his or her campaign that are paid back by someone else after the election. That repayment, after the election, goes straight into the candidate's pocket. For some reason, no one focuses on this issue, but to me it's an even more obvious problem than large donations.

In the Water District race, neither donations nor loans are subject to any legal controls. I think that's unacceptable. To deal with loans, I'm making a simple pledge: I won't do them.

To deal with donations, I've set limits. Right now the limits I've made are $250 per person, $500 per couple, and $500 per organization. I'd be happy to lock this limit into stone, but unfortunately my opponent hasn't been willing to make the same pledge. I'll have to look at the campaign finance reports when they come out early next month to see if I should adjust this limit, but I can guarantee that I will keep some limit, most likely the same one I'm using now.

I plan to make sure that my campaign finances use money and donations as a democratic equalizer, instead of something that concentrates power unequally. Clean government requires clean and fair campaign finances.


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