Public Financing Works

By David D. Schmidt, Letter to the Editor

Your editorial on Proposition 89, the Public Campaign Financing Initiative, neglected to mention that similar laws have been working successfully to eliminate corruption in Arizona and Maine since 2000. Both states strictly limit contributions and offer public financing to candidates who take no large contributions from anyone, just like Prop. 89.

In Maine, 78 percent of the state legislators have used public financing to win office. This makes them accountable to the voters, not wealthy contributors. The same goes for half the legislators in Arizona, and 10 of the 11 statewide elected officials there, including Gov. Janet Napolitano. Public financing has made it possible for new candidates with new ideas, but little money, to challenge incumbents who previously had no opposition.

This year, both Gov. Napolitano and her Republican opponent are voluntarily using public financing, which both limits and equalizes their campaign funding. Neither can take any large contributions from anyone. At the same time, in both Arizona and Maine, public financing has discouraged wealthy candidates from buying their way into office, because they know their public-financed opponents will get matching funds.

The experience of Arizona and Maine shows that public financing with contribution limits really delivers on the promise of fair elections and candidates unbossed by lobbyists and special interests. These laws have withstood challenges to their constitutionality. In California, by contrast, whoever has the most money almost always wins. And today’s loophole-ridden campaign finance laws ensure that “the money comes in, the favors go out,†as then-candidate Schwarzenegger put it in 2003.

It’s time to change this corrupt system. Vote yes on 89.

See the article on San Francisco Examiner website

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