We need fair elections

By Joe Ely, Letter to the Editor

Bravo for the Times' March 23 editorial: "Ban gifts to lawmakers" for pointing out the moral conflicts between public officials accepting gifts and their claims of perfect impartiality. Fact-finding trips and retreats should be paid for by the public with open accountability by participants.

The editor is right in saying that if recipients were not influenced, "interest groups would not be offering gifts as a way to get access to legislators."

However, gifts are just the tip of the iceberg. The problem will not go away unless we also provide an alternative to the necessity of candidates one-third of their time begging for much larger campaign donations from these same interest groups.

A pubic campaign financing alternative has proved itself effective and highly popular in the states and localities where it has been employed. A pilot public campaign financing measure named the Californian Fair Elections Act will be on our June 2010 state ballot. There are also comprehensive Fair Elections Now Act bills in the House and Senate for federal elections. Fair elections and honest government won't happen unless the people fight for them.

Joe Ely

See the article on Contra Costa Times website

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