The Times Orange County "Money Game" series (May 22-24) reveals that funds expressly contributed to political campaigns have been used by recipients for trips for their children, Christmas gifts for their friends, contributions to candidates of their choosing and other non-related activities. While such expenditures are not illegal, I am old-fashioned enough to believe that these "expenses" should have been paid for out of the candidates' personal income.
As for the sources of funding, candidates cannot but be the most beholden to those who contribute the most. Even with the public funding of campaigns, as in the case of federal matching funds, the most money still goes to those who raise the most on their own. Usually these are the better-known and/or incumbent candidates, and my public contribution may well go to a candidate I do not want to support.
A few years ago Common Cause, a proponent of the present Proposition 68 initiative, tried to put the brakes on political action committees by noting that we were fast becoming a "government of the PACs, by the PACs and for the PACs." The Times series bears out just how well this analogy is being played out.
That is why I believe that, while not ending the dilemma, Proposition 68 will help eliminate much political back-scratching by placing limits on both contributions and spending.