Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fabian Nunez

Consultant Wagging the Politician

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez just announced his opposition to Prop 89, the Clean Elections Initiative. Not coincidentally, the campaign against the measure is being led by his chief political consultant, Gale Kaufman. It was Kaufman who notified the press of Nunez's decision. Under Prop 89, Nunez would no longer be able to raise campaign cash to parcel out to other Democrats and consolidate his power in the Assembly. He could no longer shake down big donors, like insurer Blue Cross, for 25 grand to sit beside him at the World Cup. Nor could he tap special interests for his all purpose ballot measure committees. Kaufman would see an even bigger blow to her business, which currently includes helping the California Teachers Association buy all the influence it can. Prop 89 is for those who believe in the power of big ideas, not big money. This years Speaker Nunez's legislative agenda has spoken for the likes of AT&T, TimeWarner and Blue Cross. Voters deserve better.

Indeed. The problem with Sacramento is that the legislative incentive system is all built about money. Just like voters deserve campaigns of ideas instead of fundraising, so too do invidual legislators deserve leadership that values good policy as much as fundraising. It seems that the further one is from the gavel the more likely they are to support real reform.

One final thought for the night: Is it any surprise that everyone is talking about nonvoters?