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State races need clean money

August 12, 2008

Re "Capitol awash in party politics," Aug. 8

The impending dance of lobbyists and legislators in Sacramento reminds me how humiliating and unseemly the election process is. And we wonder why more talented and public-spirited people don't run for office, or why voter turnout and faith in elected representatives continues to drop.

If we had public campaign financing like they do in Arizona, Maine and Connecticut, this torrid annual spectacle would fade away and we'd see government accountable to voters instead of to big donors. Our public officials could shed their uncomfortable and unwanted dependence on private money. Everybody would win except the lobbyists and special-interest groups.

Craig Dunkerley

San Jose


Californians would benefit if legislators' "status in the house" depended on their legislative ability and not on how much money they raised for the party.

An upcoming bill has the potential to change the whole lousy system. AB 583, the Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, would create a pilot program to allow public campaign financing for the secretary of state, who regulates elections and lobbyists. It would be funded by a voluntary tax-return checkoff and an increase in lobbyist registration fees.

Lobbyists are the only serious organized opposition to this bill, and it's no wonder. If California eventually gets full public financing of election campaigns, lawmakers will be focused on the needs of the people and not worried about what the lobbyists and their employers think.

Nancy Neff

Palo Alto

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