Clean Money Campaign
In politics, wealthy candidates always have an edge. In traditional politics, itâ€™s unlikely that a good-hearted El Cerrito schoolteacher could ever hope to compete against a Montclair millionaire. That may soon change.
At the urging of the California Clean Money Campaign (CCMC), Assemblymembers Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Johan Klehs (D-Hayward) and Noreen Evans (D-Napa/Solano/Sonoma) have co-authored the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act. AB 583 would level the â€œpaying fieldâ€ by providing state funds to â€œclean moneyâ€ candidates.
With political campaigns financed by corporations and special interests, thereâ€™s always a question about a candidateâ€™s real allegiances. In Clean Money campaigns, candidates finance their contests with taxpayer dollars. In exchange for agreeing to a spending cap and a ban on accepting big-buck donations, tax-supported candidates can prominently display the â€œClean Moneyâ€ logo on all campaign literature, posters and lawn signs â€" the political equivalent of the â€œCertified Organicâ€ label for shoppers
Successful Clean Money reforms have been passed in Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and New Mexico. Clean Money campaigns are already established in Maine and Arizona. â€œThe Road to Clean Elections,â€ a powerful documentary by Bill Moyers, shows how these campaigns have revolutionized politics by allowing a new generation of grassroots politicians â€" teachers, storeowners, housewives â€" to play a role in the democratic process.
Populist political columnist Jim Hightower touts the reform for offering â€œfresh faces, new ideas and voter turnoutâ€¦ ratcheting upward.â€ Last year in Arizona, Hightower notes, clean money candidates won â€œseven of nine statewide offices, including the governor and attorney general.â€
AB 583 is set for a vote before the State Assembly Elections Committee in January. â€œWe need your help contacting legislators and building a groundswell of grassroots support,â€ says CCMC Vice President Trent Lange. â€œNow is a crucial time to get involved in the fight to put voters back into control of government.â€ As Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton observed, â€œEither the public buys the politicians or the special interests will.â€
A Clean Money Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Jan. 7, from 11am to 1pm at the Oakland City Hall. For petitions, local contacts and more info on AB 583, click on caclean.org.
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