Clean Money Campaign

By Gar Smith

In politics, wealthy candidates always have an edge. In traditional politics, it’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 “paying field†by providing state funds to “clean money†candidates.

With political campaigns financed by corporations and special interests, there’s always a question about a candidate’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 “Clean Money†logo on all campaign literature, posters and lawn signs â€" the political equivalent of the “Certified Organic†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. “The Road to Clean Elections,†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 “fresh faces, new ideas and voter turnout… ratcheting upward.†Last year in Arizona, Hightower notes, clean money candidates won “seven 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. “We need your help contacting legislators and building a groundswell of grassroots support,†says CCMC Vice President Trent Lange. “Now is a crucial time to get involved in the fight to put voters back into control of government.†As Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton observed, “Either 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.


See the article on Common Ground Magazine website



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