Lawmakers must loosen special interests' grip

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 27, 2013 

Many thanks to The Island Packet for its story about how political action committees dominate campaign spending, even at the state level here in South Carolina.

The quote from state Sen. Tom Davis was especially interesting. After his election in 2009, he stated that he did not accept PAC money, adding, "Too many legislators in Columbia make decisions based on what lobbyists tell them -- or worse, because of the special interest money they have taken."

But now that he's in office, Davis finds that his expenses require him to take contributions from special-interest groups, although he claims his vote is not for sale.

Several states have found a way out of Davis' difficult situation. Maine, Connecticut and Arizona all provide candidates with the alternative of public funding for their campaigns. With that system, successful candidates are beholden only to the voters, not to special-interest PACs.

Davis and all our elected officials ought to support the movement to reform our electoral process. That movement requires amending the Constitution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision that unleashed unlimited and undisclosed corporate campaign contributions. The amendment should also empower lawmakers at all levels of government to regulate campaign spending, including establishing a public funding option.

Many members of Congress have lined up behind this reform. A dozen states have passed resolutions of support, as have hundreds of elected local government entities.

The first step toward a better government is to get special-interest money out.

Ruth Lee


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