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Campaign Financing

March 22, 1994

* Joseph Farah (Column Right, March 15) is way off base! Public financing of political campaigns would be a bargain for "we the people."

The most important aspect of campaign financing is who is granted access to elected officials. The clearest example of what is wrong with the present system is the S&L fiasco, which cut across party lines. It is said that we will pay for the S&L bailout to the tune of about $3,000 each!

Although the Supreme Court has already ruled that it is unconstitutional to limit the amount a candidate can spend, there is no reason why we can't make public funds contingent upon voluntary spending limits and some demonstration of popular support.

If we had funded the campaigns of Alan Cranston and others who intervened with regulators on behalf of the S&Ls, we all would have saved ourselves billions of dollars!



* Farah's deluded solution to political prostitution is . . . more money. Money will get rid of the incumbents. But lobbyists don't discriminate between Democrats or Republicans. Ideology doesn't matter, incumbency does. Reform will oust more career politicians than term limits will. Farah would not let unions raise money from working people but would allow expensive dinner fund-raisers. Of course no one is coerced to attend $20,000-a-plate dinners. But can anyone truly be that hungry? Yes, if one has a special interest to push. Absurdly, Farah thanks campaign contributions for paving the political super-information highway. C'mon. Sound-bite campaign slogans and slick mailers are hardly educational. Besides, campaign contributions are increasingly spent on consultants, image doctors, and other campaign bureaucrats, not voter communication.

The politics of ideas is dead. A candidate's ability to raise money is more important than strength of convictions and community leadership. State party machines anoint local candidates. Alienated voters stay home wondering how their vote compares to a lobbyist's cash.

Campaign finance reform is a neither-party issue. It is a voter issue. Tom Hayden has decided to champion campaign finance reform. While he may not be the perfect messenger, the message could not be more critical for California's future.



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