The Coastal Post - September, 1996

Vote "Yes" On Prop. 208

BY JOAN REUTINGER

The Coastal Post has received a letter from Ruth Holton, Executive Director of California Common Cause, and Fran Packard, President, League of Women Voters of California, which says,"Right now, California state law sets no limits on contributions to candidates in primary and general elections. And there are no limits on how much money those candidates can spend to bombard us with meaningless campaign advertisements." The bill is called the California Political Reform Initiative.

The letter goes on to explain why Prop 208 is good. "Our current campaign funding process is a system of influence peddling, where special interests let their campaign contributions speak for them." And it costs you, the taxpayer, a lot of money.

It goes on to state: "We lose millions of tax dollars a year—money that could be used for schools, parks and other programs—because politicians hand out tax loopholes to special interests."

Elected officials get 94 percent of their campaign contributions from big donors such as corporations seeking tax loopholes and special exemption from health, safety and environmental laws.

The coalition of organizations supporting this ballot measure includes (as we have already stated) the League of Women Votes, and Common Cause, but also AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), the American Lung Association of California and United We Stand. it would set limits on campaign contributions by amount, source and office, limit contributions by corporations and special interests, ban candidate-to-candidate transfers, ban non-election year fundraising, ban campaign war chests and ban campaign contributions by lobbyists.

More than 4,00 volunteers helped to gather 706,000 signatures to qualify for the November 5 statewide ballot.

You may ask, "Why hasn't campaign reform been tried before?" Every serious campaign reform has so far been defeated in the state legislature, and the letter goes on to say, "The special interests who wallow in the swamp of buying and selling influence will object to draining it. They will raise all kinds of questionable arguments in an attempt to defend the present system. They'll use expensive TV ads to spread lies and distortions about the California Political Reform Initiative."

But it will be worth it if Prop. 208 passes. We don't want to be called the state where "one dollar–one vote" takes precedence over the constitutional principle of "one person–one vote."