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Politics: Get the Public Involved in the Process

June 07, 2003

I was elated to read George Skelton's "Lobbyists and Lawmakers Are Working a System That's Corrupt" (June 2). Money pays for more than access to our state legislators; it pays for results, many of which benefit big business and venture capitalists. The spectrum is wide, ranging from Gov. Gray Davis accepting donations from Indian gambling interests to state legislators accepting money from tobacco, to local officials who accept donations from contractors and then award them lucrative contracts.

It's the little guy who can't be heard over the din of rustling checks and money changing hands in Sacramento and Washington. This is the person whose problems elected officials need to listen to most. Spending limits and public funding can do more than help the little guy be heard. They can open the door to elected office for the person who knows these problems best, the little guy himself.

I urge every voter: Let us, the public, buy these politicians and put the power back in our hands. After all, isn't government supposed to be for the people?

Jason Stinnett

City of Commerce

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As stated in Skelton's column, 30% of Californians supported the idea of using public funds to finance political campaigns. It is one thing to state your support in a poll, quite another to put your money where your mouth is. According to the Federal Election Commission, only 11.25% of Americans checked off the $3 box to help fund presidential elections in 2002. This money is not in addition to the taxes you already pay. In 2002, this small minority helped fund $62 million to aid presidential elections. That money could hardly fund a gubernatorial race in California.

If public financing were voluntary, the number of those contributing would stay the same. If forcible, it would be one more tax that Californians can't stomach. The answer to end a corrupt system is to encourage average people to contribute to campaigns that they support by reenacting the tax deduction for political contributions. More people would give, and legislators would be more inclined to work for a large number of constituents who give small donations rather than a small number of lobbyists.

Monica Banken

Northridge

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