The influence of Big Money is everywhere. It's washing up on the shores of our Gulf Coast, creeping up on homeowners across the country and showing up in our schools and hospitals.
Our economy, our environment and our well-being are held hostage by lobbyists whose only care is retaining the power they hold. The need for reform is simple: we won't -- can't -- fix any of our country's problems until we end the dominance of money in politics.
On Tuesday, Californians have an opportunity to strike a blow against the entrenched system of money-dominated politics that puts lobbyists' interests above the public interest by voting yes on Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act.
Prop 15 will change the way we finance election campaigns, starting with a voluntary pilot project to provide limited public financing for Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. The Secretary of State referees our elections, so it's especially important that s/he has the best ideas and experience, not the most money.
And it pays for itself, primarily through a $350 per year registration fees on lobbyists, lobbying firms and lobbyist employers (right now, they only pay $12.50 per year in California, one of the lowest rates in the country and less than a daily fishing license).
And that's not all. From Calitics:
It also repeals a ban on public financing, so that local governments can create their own systems—and the system can be extended to other statewide offices with a vote of the legislature and the signature of the governor. Perhaps a Governor Jerry Brown might be inclined to sign a bill creating a public financing system for the 2014 governor's race, given the abhorrent spectacle of Meg Whitman spending $68 million and counting to buy the governor's office?
This isn't a full solution, but it starts us down the path of cleaning up our elections and returning power to the people. It is a great way to show the people of California that we can have democracy again, and not corporatocracy.
Prop 15 is tough:
- Candidates who agree to use public funds must prove they have substantial support by gathering signatures and $5 contributions from 7,500 registered voters.
- Participating candidates are banned from raising or spending money beyond the limited funds.
- Spending limits and reporting requirements are strictly enforced. Candidates can only spend on legitimate expenses. Violators would face fines, possible jail time, and prohibitions from running for office in the future.
Given the state of our state, this is a critical campaign. But this is not just important to Californians. People across the country are watching too, knowing that Prop 15 could open the door for similar reforms across the country. Hundreds of orgs and individuals (including Rep. Alan Grayson and Lawrence Lessig) support it. You should, too.