Campaign Finance Reform

This is a tough battle because legitimate candidates want their name to be easily recognized by the voting public. There are those that feel they can or need to “buy” an office to insure their interest are represented as they want. There are honest candidate battles that just cost a lot too. Sadly the media itself often spurs on these fights and makes money from them. The broad range of advertising space from newspapers, television, internet, fliers, banners, hats, pins, buttons, travel, hotel rooms, dinners, and more that it takes to “meet and greet” the voting public is now enormous and very costly!

The definition and description is:

Campaign Finance Reform- Campaign finance refers to all funds raised to promote candidates, political parties, or policy initiatives and referenda. Political parties, charitable organizations, and political action committees (in the United States) are vehicles used in aggregating funds to keep campaigns alive. “Political finance” is also popular terminology, and is used internationally for its comprehensiveness. Campaign finance deals with “the costs of democracy”, a term coined by G. Alexander Heard for his famous analysis of campaign finance in the U.S. (Wikipedia)

  • Private Financing- Some countries rely heavily on private donors to finance political campaigns. In these countries, fundraising is often a significant activity for the campaign staff and the candidate, especially in larger and more prominent campaigns. For example, one survey in the United States found that 23% of candidates for statewide office surveyed say that they spent more than half of their scheduled time raising money. Over half of all candidates surveyed spent at least 1/4 of their time on fundraising. One study finds that political donations gives donors significantly greater access to policymakers. The tactics used can include direct mail solicitation, attempts to encourage supporters to contribute via the Internet, direct solicitation from the candidate, and events specifically for the purpose of fundraising, or other activities. (Wikipedia)
  • Public Financing- Some countries choose to use government funding to run campaigns. Funding campaigns from the government budget is widespread in South America and Europe. The mechanisms for this can be quite varied, ranging from direct subsidy of political parties to government matching funds for certain types of private donations (often small donations) to exemption from fees of government services (e.g., postage) and many other systems as well. Supporters of government financing generally believe that the system decreases corruption; in addition, many proponents believe that government financing promotes other values, such as civic participation or greater faith in the political process. Not all government subsidies take the form of money; some systems require campaign materials (often air time on television) to be provided at very low rates to the candidates. Critics sometimes complain of the expense of the government financing systems. Conservative and libertarian critics of the system argue that government should not subsidize political speech. Other critics argue that government financing, with its emphasis on equalizing money resources, merely exaggerates differences in non-monetary resources. (Wikipedia)

Wikipedia proves the following very interesting details. Here is the schedule from them as imposed by Congress on itself and enforced by the Federal Election Commission.

Small Individual Contributors Large Individual Contributors Political Action Committees Self-Financing Other
9% 47% 38% 3% 3%
House Republicans 14% 48% 24% 12% 3%
11% 54% 15% 12% 8%
Senate Republicans 18% 42% 12% 20% 8%
Candidate Committee PAC
SSF and Nonconnected
State/District/Local Party Committee National Party Committee Additional National Party Committee Accounts
Individual $2,800 per election $5,000 per year $10,000 per year (combined) $35,50 per year $106,500 per account, per year
Candidate Committee $2,000 per election $5,000 per year Unlimited Transfers
PAC – Multicandidate $5,000 per election $5,000 per year $5,000 per year (combined) $15,000 per year $45,000 per account, per year
PAC – Nonmulticandidate $2,800] per election $5,000 per year $10,000 per year (combined) $35,500
per year
$106,50 per account, per year
State, District & Local Party Committee $5,000 per election $5,000 per year Unlimited Transfers

Now ask why would anyone spend a million dollars or more for an elected public position? Actually “buying” a job? Professional “headhunting” employment firms will charge fee of around 15 to 25% to find a talented professional person with lots of experience, a higher education, and a good personality for major companies today. Say a job that pays $172,000 per year like a U.S. House of Representatives Congressmen in the great 2nd District of Arizona will receive. At the high onetime fee of 25% a headhunting firm would earn $43,000 dollars charged to the employing company. The cost to the winner of the job…ZERO! At the top executive level it is common that this person receives traveling expenses, bonuses, a vehicle, health and life insurance benefits, an office, staff, and more. Sounds like a Congressmen’s benefits doesn’t? Why then do most Washington elected politicians leave office as a millionaire? Where does the rest of the money come from? Many say the “payoffs for influence” is a large part of it. True or not?

Publicly funded elections purportedly reduce corruption by funding elections with federal tax revenue or income tax donations as opposed to corporate campaign contributions or individuals with disproportionate wealth. The purpose is to remove undue monetary influence on politicians. It is an attempt to move toward one person one vote in a democracy. (Wikipedia)

Comprehensive public funding systems for State level positions have been in effect in Arizona and Maine since 2000. In Maine, since enactment, approximately three quarters of state legislators have run their campaigns with government funds provided by the state program. In Arizona, a majority of the state house and both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Governor ran publicly financed campaigns in 2006. There has not yet been a statewide election in Maine in which both the Republican and Democratic candidates were financed through the public financing system. (Wikipedia)

MY INTENTIONS TO ADDRESS THIS SPECIFIC ISSUE- It is my position that a “cap” be placed on how much a candidate can receive and spend on any one campaign at a time. A cap that allows even the most common basic everyday American citizen to seek public office. In Washington I can address this at the Federal level and in the great 2nd District of Arizona I can work with the local officials to better address all this. I promise!

I am mixed on whether public funds should be exclusively used for publicly elected positions. This would be that candidates could not use their own money or any donated money for their campaigns. The cost on the tax payer today is high enough and does not need additional tax burdens. Perhaps already existing tax dollars can be redirected for this possible program…like the billion dollars Obama gave to Iran in cash! Where did that come from?

Lots of good research is required on this topic to better address it as a policy or law. Careful wording and consideration will be required along with a lot of discussion with other political leaders to get the votes to pass this type of plan. I strongly feel that a “cap” must be placed on political campaign spending if public funding is not the plan. They must be very strong policies and laws too. Honest political leaders will support this and corrupt political leaders will not. Just watch!