California Could Use "Clean Money"

By Susan Lerner, Letter to the Editor

The Daily Breeze's Sunday editorial was disappointing in the depth of its misunderstanding of both the provisions of, and philosophy behind, Proposition 89. As one of the primary drafters of Proposition 89, I know that the measure does not seek to remove money from politics, which is, as you point out, impossible. What it does do is seek to end our current system of legalized bribery and level the political playing field so that elections can be about ideas and not money. With a Clean Money system in place, more ordinary Californians -- not just the "political class" -- would actually be able to run for office.

Experience in Arizona and Maine, which have Clean Money systems, bears this out. The goal is an election landscape that is a vigorous marketplace of ideas, with candidates able to communicate effectively with voters.

We agree that there must be fast and full disclosure of all campaign contributions. California law has already made a start in achieving that goal. We've built 24-hour electronic reporting of contributions into Proposition 89. However, full disclosure alone has not solved the problem. We now have a system in which full disclosure leads to the overwhelming desire to vote for "none of the above.''

Relying on full disclosure of campaign contributions without providing an alternative to the current corrupting system has had the unintended consequence of breeding cynicism and voter apathy. Voter turnout in California has reached historical lows. The drafters and endorsers of Proposition 89 do not believe in ceding our democracy to an "it can't be fixed, just put up with it" attitude. Because we believe that California's voters aren't ready to give up either, we've put Proposition 89 on the November ballot. Californians who have had it with our warped system of political campaign funding will be voting yes on 89.

-- SUSAN LERNER
Executive Director,

California Clean Money Action Fund

Los Angeles


See the article on Daily Breeze website



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