Saturday, October 07, 2006

Give regular voters a stronger voice

Ned Wigglesworth has a must-read op-ed on Proposition 89 in the Sacramento Bee:

Crafted carefully by some of the foremost constitution and election-law experts in California, Proposition 89 would attack the problem head-on with strict new limits on political contributions to candidates, parties and so-called independent committees operated by corporations, unions, gaming tribes and trial lawyers alike. Lobbyists and state contractors would be barred from making contributions. The measure also would offer limited public funds to qualifying candidates who want to serve their constituents free from obligation to private donors. And there is tough disclosure and enforcement language to make sure participants play by the rules.

The result of the measure would be incredibly positive for all but a handful of the biggest political spenders in California. Regular people would have a bigger voice in the decisions and priorities of state government. Candidates would be judged on the strength of their ideas, not the size of their campaign accounts. Elected officials could be held accountable when placing the demands of their wealthy donors over the needs of their constituents.

In short, government in California could actually work again, which is why the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause and the California Clean Money Campaign all have endorsed the measure.

The list of Proposition 89 opponents reads like a Who's Who of special interests in California. Insurance companies, developers, lobbyists and the biggest labor union in the state have ganged up to defeat the measure. They likely will spend millions in their effort to derail reform.

Speaking of the opposition, 32% of the opposition cash is from big insurers/HMOs, 18% from big oil and gas companies, 11% from big developers/real estate interests, 9% from the Chamber of Commerce PACs, and 7% each from big utilities and big pharma. There is a reason these big money, special interests don't want a level playing field.

However, those percentages were calculated yesterday, who knows what they will be on Monday. Mother's Milk says $12,172,264 changed hands yesterday, bringing the year-to-date total to $388,470,111.