Clean Money Misunderstood

By Craig Dunkerley, Letter to the Editor

EDITOR,
Dan Walters misunderstands Assembly Bill 583, the Clean Money Act, and the system of publicly financed campaigns it would set up.

First, because the clean money system is voluntary there actually are no Bill of Rights or free speech issues, as several courts have already held.

Second, the public financing systems in Arizona and Maine have actually proven to work very well. They also have bipartisan support and the overwhelming approval of voters.

In addition to the spending limits Walters mentions, clean money candidates agree to accept no private donations, including from themselves. Special interest contributions used to influence legislation thus become useless.

Walters’ observation that previous spending limit reforms just tended to drive special interest money underground is correct, but with this reform, independent expenditure groups have to disclose what they spend, and that spending triggers additional matching funds for the clean money candidate. This tends to discourage such expenditures.

Finally, Walters chides the bill for having different qualifying requirements for smaller third-party candidates.

But most such systems have such provisions. We want to enable such parties to be heard, but we also want to be frugal when spending taxpayer dollars. The Green Party, for example, has endorsed the bill, believing it properly strikes this balance.

Craig Dunkerley, South Bay Area coordinator, California Clean Money Campaign, Sunnyvale


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