'Clean Money' May End Pay-to-Play Politics

By Jay Ashford, Letter to the Editor

Editor -- The problem of pay-to-play politics is neither a Democratic nor a Republican problem, it is a problem inherent in the system itself ("Corruption and the politics of pay-to-play,'' Dec. 4). For as long as public servants must raise private money to run a viable campaign for office, they will be beholden primarily to those interests who funded their campaigns, and secondarily to the people they've sworn to represent.

The result is health-care legislation that favors the insurance and drug industries, environmental regulations that go easy on polluters, taxpayers' subsidies for energy companies posting record profits and no-bid contracts to firms with a history of defrauding the federal government, and so on.

This will never stop until we break the dependency of our elected leaders from the private-money rat race. The answer is to implement full public funding for elections. When candidates are able to run for office with public funds, they will be beholden first and foremost to the taxpayers who they're supposed to represent. This solution is already working at the state level in Maine and Arizona, and is coming up for debate next month in California (information and background on AB583, the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, can be found at www.caclean.org).

This fundamental and vital reform of our broken system is desperately overdue.

See the article on San Francisco Chronicle website

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