A Voter's Perspective April 10, 2002

Little, if anything, will be resolved by the so-called campaign finance reform legislation recently passed by the Congress and signed into law by the president. Incumbent elected officials never intended to reform campaign finance, now or ever. Why else would they not make the law effective until after the November 2002 elections? That gives them and their political parties time to load up their campaign war chests, set up their political front organizations and money-laundering groups, and to file their lawsuits in the name of free speech for the Supreme Court to polish-off whatever loose teeth are left in the phony legislation.

There is, however, a simple solution to the age-old problem of campaign financing, and it's simply this: All campaign contributions would be anonymous, not so different from the people's right to cast their votes. Secretly. And the teeth in such a campaign finance law would be these:

Campaign contributions would be unlimited; however, not many would contribute huge sums with no possibility of quid-pro-quo

A contributor, or any other person, who discloses a campaign contribution to a candidate or elected official would be guilty of a bribery. Likewise, any candidate or elected official who solicits campaign contributions from any person or any group, organization or corporation would be guilty of soliciting a bribe.

And any elected official who gains knowledge, by whatever means, of the source of any campaign contribution would be required to disclose that knowledge and be prohibited from voting on any legislation related to the contributor. To do otherwise, the elected official would be guilty of accepting a bribe and removed from office.

Opponents to this proposal would undoubtedly say that it's Draconian suppression of free speech. But it's not. People just don't contribute to candidates and elected officials for nothing. They want something in return, which is the support and vote of a candidate or elected official. And that's bribery by any definition. Elected officials are supposed to represent all of the people, regardless of who helps them get elected or who helps them stay in office. Democracy is not supposed to be limited to moneyed interests, but that's what quid-pro-quo campaign financing does. Opponents who are basing their opposision on grounds of limiting free speach would be silenced by allowing unlimited contributions.

The upside to the proposal is that it would broaden campaign finance contributions to the vast majority of people with a 100 percent tax deduction for campaign contributions, but only for those in the middle income brackets and below. The deduction for those in higher income brackets would be commensurately less. Nothing for those with the highest incomes. And, anyone including tax preparers or anyone from the IRS who disclosed a contribution would be guilty of a felony.

Then if we could remove the the two-party system's biopoly stranglehold on government and elections, and make all elections nonpartisan, we would have few problems and much more democracy in our deeply troubled republic.

-- a concerned voter