For money reform that works -- look not to Washington, but to states and cities, which are passing laws that provide public financing of their elections.
This gives candidates an option that frees them from always going around rattling a tin cup for donations. The "Clean Elections" option is changing politics.
Maine, for example, has had four election cycles under its public financing system, and the astonishing result is that Mainers now have a state legislature in which 83 percent of its members have been elected with clean money.
Nancy Smith, a small dairy farmer, is one of those house members, as is Deborah Simpson, a single mom who was a waitress. Neither could have run without the possibility of public funding. As Nancy says, "Clean campaigns allow those who work to run for office, and they create 'citizen legislatures' that bring very different perspectives and a different energy to government."
Likewise, 59 percent of Arizona's legislators have risen to office without taking special-interest money. In addition, nine of Arizona's 11 statewide elected offices are held by clean-money candidates, including Gov. Janet Napolitano, who says she could not have beaten her corporate-funded opponents without the pubic system.
North Carolina offers the clean-money funding option for its two top courts. In 2004, clean candidates won four of the five seats that were up for grabs on these courts, and last year, the publicly funded contenders took five of the six seats that were up. A reform leader says: "This change simply would not have happened without clean elections."
To bring real reform, call Public Campaign at (202) 293-0222.
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