Walter A. Zelman (Editorial Pages, Feb. 24) is right on the mark in his call for political campaign finance reform in California. If we want to clean up politics, we have to invest some money in it, like we do with presidential campaigns.
However, I am afraid that Zelman understates the severity of the problem. The link between campaign money and policy-making these days is more than just "undesirable." It's costly and dangerous.
The activities of former Assemblyman Bruce Young, fireworks magnate W. Patrick Moriarty, and others convicted on corruption charges were not simply vague violations of reporting laws. They were efforts to use campaign contributions and other gifts to influence an important public issue; in this case, fireworks-caused fires that have resulted in countless deaths, injuries, and property damage.
Even more disturbing is that the money-votes link in the Moriarty scandal is not an isolated incident. Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello) said of the recent fight over interstate banking, "If you have equal money coming from both sides, then there's an opportunity to do the right thing." We deserve better than a money-balancing act from our elected officials.