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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/17/10

Campaign finance -- the wealthy control our elections

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Message Dan Jacoby
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down part of Connecticut's campaign finance system.

In this case,Green Party of Connecticut v. Garfield, the court upheld a district court ruling that the "trigger" provision that provides extra public funding to participating candidates who are opposed by high-spending nonparticipants, is unconstitutional.

The ruling will surely be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a case out of Arizona, McComish v. Bennett, a district court threw out a similar trigger. The Ninth Circuit Court overturned the district court ruling, but the Supreme Court -- having not even granted cert on the case -- preemptively vacated the circuit court's ruling.

What does this mean for campaign finance laws? Currently, almost all campaign finance systems that use public funding as an inducement to limit spending also have a trigger to encourage participation. The problem is that nearly every such system in the country that has been in effect is falling apart, because too many people can now raise too much money to be willing to limit their spending. Until now, many such candidates participated anyway, because they didn't want their opponents to get extra funding.

Now that the courts are throwing out every attempt to encourage participation, these candidates will just raise and spend all they can, and public funding will be nothing more than throwing our tax money down the drain. Candidates have always had to raise a boatload of money; now they're going to need a bigger boat.

This means that wealthy special interest groups, led by Wall Street, Big Oil, and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries (a.k.a. the pushers and the bookies), which already control much of our government, will control it completely, with no hope for the rest of us.

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Dan is an organizer with Democracy for NYC
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Campaign finance -- the wealthy control our elections

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