Monday, April 25, 2005


Why We Need Public Funding of Campaigns

As noted earlier, Minnesota's Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, is of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. So it stands to reason that he would, as a waterboy for the rich, want to attack anything that allows the not-rich to have a fair shake at getting the reins of government:

Proposals by Gov. Tim Pawlenty to drain much of the money from Minnesota's campaign finance subsidies are moving through the Minnesota House and might be on the table for final budget negotiations. Pawlenty and his House Republican allies are pushing through bills that would scrap the political contribution refund program, cut direct campaign subsidies from the general fund and change the campaign "checkoff" system so that income-tax payers would have less incentive to use it. Republicans, who have long been critical of the programs, say the state's budget problems and public demands for basic services such as education and transportation are forcing some tough choices. [...] But DFLers and campaign overhaul advocates say the bills threaten Minnesota's reputation for clean and competitive politics. The cuts will protect incumbents and could deliver a severe blow to the Independence Party of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, they say. "This is not a smart idea," said David Schultz, a campaign finance expert at Hamline University. Since Wisconsin slashed its subsidies recently, up to a third of legislative incumbents have gone unchallenged and in a few races the campaign spending has topped $1 million by each candidate, he said. Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-North St. Paul, said Pawlenty's proposal "will be opposed and opposed strongly" in the Senate. And Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, the architect of much of Minnesota's campaign finance regulation, labeled the proposals "outrageous" in view of Pawlenty's strong position going into his expected 2006 reelection drive. "Our governor is an incumbent with a lot of money and a lot of wealthy friends who's figuring out he doesn't need the money himself this time, and if he can take it away from everyone else it saves money on his budget," Marty said.
Yet another reason to back public financing of campaigns.

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