Saturday, August 16, 2008

Letter to the Editor on Ballot Measure 3: Clean Elections

This letter arrived too late to be included in the paper, but I thought it was worth printing (virtually) anyway.

August 13, 2008
Dear editor:

The opposition statement to the Clean Elections Ballot Measure 3 in the state Voter's Guide is wildly off base, a shameful disservice to Alaskans. The nonpartisan Clean Elections Institute of Arizona, where publicly funded campaigns have been in place for nearly a decade, analyzed the statement. For the record:

Opposition Statement (OS): In Arizona, publicly funded legislators vote the same as privately funded ones.
Clean Elections Institute (CEI): False. No statistical study has been done.

OS: Experts have consistently found that campaign contributions do not affect votes.
CEI: No non-biased expert has ever said such a thing. (Nor would anyone with common sense believe it.)

OS: Clean Elections won't help, because lobbyists and powerful interest groups will continue to buttonhole legislators.
CEI: They will, but the all-important difference is that Clean Election legislators feel free to vote their conscience on an issue without worrying about losing campaign funding.

OS: The number of women elected under Clean Elections actually declined.
CEI: A "flat out lie".

OS: By helping gather the signatures and $5 contributions required to qualify for public funding, special interest groups can actually increase their aid to candidates.
CEI: Wrong. They are usually collected one at a time by the candidate and a small group of volunteers. The system forces candidates to get out and talk to their prospective constituents. (And there is no comparison between the minor amounts of seed money a candidate is allowed to raise to get started in Clean Elections and the sums special interests pay today.)

OS: Wackos will use state money to run for office under this system.
CEI: The need to convince hundreds of voters in one's district to give a qualifying $5 contribution has prevented this from happening.

OS: Publicly funded legislators "are far more likely to vote as their constituents want in order to avoid retribution at the polls."

Say what? This didn't even rate an answer from CEI, but we agree. That's the whole point of publicly funded campigns--we want people in office who are more responsive to their constituents!

Nearly 80% of voters in Arizona support Clean Elections for a simple reason: they like the way it works.

Larry Landry
Fairbanks, Alaska
The Ester Republic and its publisher endorse Ballot Measure 3. We've all seen what happens when corporations and industry groups are the big financiers of our elected officials. Let's just get rid of this problem before it starts--then we won't have to wait until they're arrogant and blatant about their corruption before booting the Corrupt Bastards out.

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