Clean Campaigns

By Joe Ely, Letter to the Editor

Gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides dramatically sharpened the contrast between his campaign and that of his Republican opponent when he endorsed Proposition 89, the clean election measure on the November ballot.

One of its major elements is the enactment of full public campaign financing, also called clean money.

Clean money will enable qualified candidates for state office who are not wealthy, and who do not have very wealthy supporters, to have a good chance of getting elected. These clean-money candidates, who must forego all financing from any private source (even their own pockets), can have their campaigns fully financed from a special state fund after demonstrating a solid base of voter support.

That support is earned by gathering a specified number of signatures, accompanied by a $5 donation to the public campaign fund.

This voluntary clean-money system has been highly successful in Arizona and Maine, where it has resulted in more than 10 percent greater voter participation, because the people in those states know that they can elect candidates who will be obligated only to the voters, not their very wealthy donors.

Furthermore, clean-money candidates do not have to spend half their time begging for contributions, as their privately financed counterparts do.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gained office by condemning pay-to-play politics. He said, "The money comes in. The favors go out. The people lose." Since then, he's made his pay-to-play predecessors look like amateurs. Prop. 89 will shift power from wealthy special interests to the voters. I applaud Angelides for supporting it.

Joe Ely


See the article on Contra Costa Times website

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