Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Open Humboldt Forum: Campaign Finance Reform

The most recent subject on the county's new Open Humboldt Forum is campaign finance reform. Should there be limits on how much candidates can raise overall, individual donation limits, or both? There's also a poll you can take regarding what the limits should be.

I've wrote here before that campaign finance reform isn't a big issue with me and is overrated. Truth be told, much of the campaign "reform" measures we see are just one side trying to gain an advantage over the other- the recently declared unconstitutional Measure T being an example.

My comment to the forum yesterday was along the lines of what I've written here before: Individual donation caps put the underdog at an even bigger disadvantage. The underdog starts out with the least support. Limiting his supporters to only donating a certain amount of money assures he remains at the bottom. One donation from a wealthy supporter could get him into the big leagues, at least as far as money goes.

I won't openly oppose overall campaign caps- say, $100K total for a candidate in a given race. That means nothing for the underdog since he likely won't raise anywhere near that much, especially if individual contributions are capped. After I made my comment yesterday, I came up with a compromise between overall campaign limits and individual contributions.

Assuming overall campaign collections end up being capped by ordinance, in the interest of a level playing field maybe we could make it slightly different for individual donations, assuming those get limited, too:

Let's say there's a total cap on $100k per candidate in a three way race. The most popular candidate easily reaches the limit by the first reporting period. The second most popular comes in just under with the underdog only raising half. How about individual contribution limits for those two candidates be suspended at that point to allow them the best chance to catch up with the #1 candidate?

By no means would that mean the two candidates could catch up with #1. They might still remain mired well below, but they have a better chance. If they don't make up the difference, oh well. They just don't have the support.

Seems an even playing field is what most of us really want. Such a plan would work toward that while still giving us "reform". Seems fair enough to me.


At 12:42 PM, Blogger Travis said...

an overall cap is the only thing that would work and be fair especially on a national level. I'm also of the opinion the corporations should not be able to contribute, only private citizens. I think the Supreme Court ruling was a big mistake.

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Whatever. So long as you include unions and other left wing non- profits, that might be fair enough. Except all the talk I've heard simply says businesses shouldn't be able to contribute. They never include unions.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Travis said...

I just have issue as far as who can manipulate are elections right now a foreigner own corporation can donate an undisclosed amount of money to any campaign through a super Pac that's why I think there should be an overall cap and you should have to be a United States citizen to contribute or donate.

At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Why not use tax dollars to fund all elections at every level and outlaw private donations, gifts, etc....that way all candidates are dealing on a level playing field and truly the winner will be the one who woos the most voters, not because all candidates are equally funded. - HOJ

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Why not use tax dollars to fund all elections at every level and outlaw private donations, gifts, etc....that way all candidates are dealing on a level playing field....

Because that would be putting the fox in charge of guarding the hen house. Somebody is going to have to decide how candidates get ballot status and how much money they get. There will be qualifications as to what candidates are considered "legitimate".

We've already seen how the powers- that- be manipulate elections to their advantage. Sorry, but I don't trust anybody to set up equal elections thru public financing.

The best we can do is allow equal access to the ballot box. Politicians and bureaucrats the last bunch we can expect that from. If we allow everyone to run, with limits on total money spent, all candidates should get equal exposure to their ideas. If it's publicly funded, you can bet some candidates will be excluded from the process.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Fred, but deciding "how candidates get ballot status" is different than "how much money they get".

Anyhow, an election for president where all candidates receive THE SAME "x amount of $$$$$$" now puts the candidates on a more level playing field in so far as what money can buy. In so far as the character of the person running for office, that is still something the voters have much to choose from.

How is having campaign finances equality between all candidates putting a fox in charge of the hen house? Seems more like taxpayers in charge of the "hen house", with the "hens being the candidates running for office".

As far as decisions being made, well decisions are already made; so, maybe it will be a "swap of decision makings" because of going from one format to another format. Decisions always will need to be made whereas fairness and equality for a "public position" should be such that "donations don't elevate one over another". Personally, elections are for public positions and all candidates should be funded equally, which does not negate any individuals ability to be who they are. As it is now, heavily funded campaigns are the only ones to have commercials, radio ads, paper ads, electronic ads, etc....and to say that personal finances are not used is false too (Ross Perot).

Money aids and abets in buying elections. Either disallow money in whole (which will create a whole new class of candidates, pissing-off the monied interests) or allow it equally to all candidates (pissing-off the monied inbterests, and with a cap of course - decision making process) - HOJ

At 2:58 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

What criteria would you suggest for presidential candidates to get the funding? Just Republicans and Democrats, or would you allow other parties to partake?

As it is, some parties already get matching funds from the federal government. Should we let all parties get funding? If not, at what point to we say no? There's umpteen political parties and often a hundred or more presidential candidates in a given election.

For the candidates or parties that don't qualify to have their campaigns financed by the government,can they still raise their own funds?

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Post Where It Matters said...

We all gotta put these comments into that forum. Since the Supes are gonna have this on their agenda they're probably gonna include the comments from the forum into their packet. they won't read this blog.


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