Cleaning Up Our Elections

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Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanseburg, waves to the gallery after being sworn in to office in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Campaign finance reform was central to Tkaczyk's campaign. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanseburg, waves to the gallery after being sworn into office in the Senate Chamber at the New York State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Tkaczyk defeated Republican George Amedore by 18 votes in the 46th Senate District. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Candidates spend less time chasing big donations from corporations, lobbyists and the rich in states and cities where campaigning for office is publicly financed.

Public finance systems reduce the role of money in an election, increase the role of small donors and generally make elections more competitive. Proponents believe such funding encourages more people from diverse backgrounds to run for office. What’s more, by agreeing to accept small contributions from regular voters — matched by a public fund — officeseekers and incumbents can spend more time with their constituents talking about issues and working on policy solutions.

In New York City, if you’re running for citywide office or city council, any private contribution you receive up to $175 is matched six to one. Spending limits vary depending on the office for which you’re running. Fourteen states including Arizona, Connecticut, Maine and North Carolina use similar citizen-funded election systems for at least some of their elections with great success.

This week on Moyers & Company, Jonathan Soros, co-founder of “Friends of Democracy” a SuperPAC seeking to counter the influence of money in politics, tells Bill that he thinks this new city and state public finance groundswell has a chance of renewing the grass roots movement for campaign finance reform: “In the beginning there’ll be people in the system [or] out of the system — that’s okay… We think we can create a kind of a norm in which it becomes a benefit to be part of a fair elections, a clean elections system.”

Learn more about clean, fair elections at the following links.

Fair Elections for New York
Learn more about how public financing has expanded the pool for candidates and increased small donor participation in New York City, the coalition of groups who support it and how Governor Cuomo wants to make the public fund statewide. Download the fact sheet.

Brennan Center: Public Financing
More about the New York City public financing system including a report on how it works and a proposal for expansion of the program in other states and municipalities.

Common Cause: Public Financing in the States
Fourteen states provide direct public financing to candidates. Find out what the rules are in each state.

Huffington Post:Public Financing Of New York Elections Picks Up Key Vote With Cecilia Tkaczyk Senate Victory” – Jan. 18, 2012

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  • Sweet Sixteen~But Wicked Smart

    Sad but true, any law professor can be elected to any office, even if she is a fender bender.

  • Anonymous

    RESTORING FAITH IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT ACT

    I NO AMENDMENTS SHALL BE ALLOWED TO BE ATTACHED TO THIS ACT NOR WILL ANY CHANGES BE ALLOWED TO BE MADE.

    II ALL CAMPAIGN FUNDS, THAT HAVE BEEN COLLECTED OR THAT ARE PLEDGED TO BE DONATED, ARE HEREBY FORFEITED AND WILL BE POOLED FOR USE BY ANY CANDIDATE WISHING TO RUN FOR ANY OFFICE.

    A. ALL NON PROFITS THAT ACT IN THE POLITICAL REALM FOR ANY REASON HEREBY LOSE NON PROFIT STATUS.

    B. OF ALL MONIES CURRENTLY HELD BY THESE NON PROFITS, AND WHO ACT IN A POLITICAL MANNER, 90% OF THOSE FUNDS ARE FORFEIT AND SHALL GO INTO A FUND TO PUBLICLY FINANCE ALL ELECTIONS.

    i. ALL DONORS NAMES ADDRESSES AND AMOUNTS DONATED TO THESE ENTITIES SHALL BE MADE PUBLIC.

    ii. ALL DONORS OF THESE NON PROFITS WHO ACT IN A POLITICAL MANNER SHALL BE MADE TO DONATE THE SAME AMOUNTS, OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT 5 YEARS, THE SAME AMOUNTS DONATED FOR THE PREVIOUS 5 YEARS TO PUT INTO THE PUBLICLY FINANCED ELECTION FUND.

    C. ANYONE WHO WISHES TO RUN FOR AN OFFICE MUST GET 5000 SIGNATURES OR 5% OF THEIR VOTING AGE CONSTITUANTS, WHICH EVER AMOUNT IS LESS.

    D. ALL DISTRICTS SHALL BE REDRAWN WITHOUT POLITICAL INTERFERANCE.

    i. A CITIZEN BOARD THAT IS RANDOMLY DRAWN FROM ALL VOTING CONSTITUANTS SHALL MAKE DISTRICTS EQUITABLE IN POPULATION AND SHALL BE DONE IN A GRID FASHION. NO GERRY MANDERING ALLOWED.

    ii. NO DISTRICT SHALL HAVE MORE THAN 100 PERSONS, MORE OR LESS THAN ANY OTHER DISTRICT ACROSS THE STATE.

    E. $ 3 PER PERSON WILL BE COLLECTED FROM EVERY FAMILY, BUSINESS OR CORPORATION.

    i. FAMILIES WILL BE REQUIRED TO PUT IN $3 FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY.

    ii. BUSINESS AND CORPORATIONS WILL BE REQUIRED TO DONATE $3 FOR EVERY PERSON EMPLOYED BY THE BUSINESS INCLUDING THE CEO, BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND SUB CONTRACTORS.

    III NO LOBBYIST SHALL BE ALLOWED TO CONTACT ANY SENATOR, CONGRESSMAN, THE PRESIDENT, OR ANYONE ELSE WHO WORKS IN A GOVERNMENT CAPACITY.

    A. ALL CORRISPONDANCE THAT A CONSTITUANT OR CORPORATION WISHES TO CONVEY, SHALL FROM NOW ON ONLY BE DONE BY LETTER, E-MAIL, OR CONTACT VIA TRANSCRIBBED MESSAGE THROUGH THE WHITEHOUSE SWITCHBOARD.

    B. NO ONE IN GOVERNMENT IS ALLOWED TO ATTEND ANY POLITICAL EVENT THAT WOULD GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF A CONFLICT OF INTEREST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

    i. THE AMERICAN LEGISLATIVE EXCHANGE COUNCIL IS HEREBY OUTLAWED AND ANY AND ALL A.L.E.C. BILLS AND THOSE RESEMBLING A.L.E.C. BILLS ARE NOW NULL AND VOID ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.

    a. THOSE STATES WHICH WISH TO RETAIN THOSE BILLS WILL NEED TO REWRITE AND RESUBMIT AND VOTE ON THEM ONCE MORE.

    b. ANY STATE WHICH WISHES TO REINSTATE AN A.L.E.C. BILL MUST GET APPROVAL BY 2/3 OF THE VOTERS IN THAT STATE, BY A BALLOT INITIATIVE THAT IS CLEARLY EXPLAINED, BEFORE IT GOES INTO EFFECT.

    ii. MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT SHALL ABIDE BY ALL THE RULES, LAWS, AND REGULATIONS THAT PERTAIN TO ALL FEDERAL JUDGESHIPS.

    a. ANY MEMBER OF THE SUPREME COURT WHO HAS IMMEDIATE FAMILY IN A LOBBYING ORGANIZATION, LOSES THEIR POSTION ON THE SUPREME COURT. CONFLICT OF INTEREST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

    b. ANY MEMBER OF THE SUPREME COURT WHO IS THE MEMBER OF, OR WHO ATTENDS A PARTISAN POLITICAL EVENT LOSES THEIR POSITION ON THE SUPREME COURT. THE APPEARANCE OF FAVORITISM TOWARDS ANY POLITICAL PARTY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

    C. THE REVOLVING DOOR OF POLITICS AND PRIVATE SECTOR LOBBYIST JOBS IS HEREBY ENDED.

    a. NO POLITICIAN OR OTHER GOVERNMENT WORKER, SHALL BE ALLOWED TO WORK FOR ANY LOBBYING ENTITY FOR A PERIOD OF NOT LESS THAN 20 YEARS AFTER LEAVING OFFICE.

    b. NO PERSON SHALL BE ALLOWED TO BE EMPLOYED IN A REGULATORY AGENCY, THAT PREVIOUSLY WORKED FOR THE INDUSTRY BEING REGULATED, IN THE CAPACITY OF ENFORCING REGULATIONS OR MAKING REGULATIONS THAT PERTAIN TO THE INDUSTRY. THIS IS AN OBVIOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST WITH THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. NOR SHALL THAT REGULATORY AGENCY EMPLOYEE BE ALLOWED TO ENTER THE WORKFORCE OF THE INDUSTRY REGULATED BY THE REGULATORY AGENCY, ONCE THEIR TIME IN THE REGULATORY AGENCY HAS ENDED, FOR A PERIOD OF NOT LESS THAN 20 YEARS.

    IV. ONLY INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS SHALL BE ALLOWED TO WRITE BILLS TO SEEK APPROVAL BEFORE CONGRESS.

    A. NO COMPANY OR GROUP OF COMPANIES SHALL HAVE ACCESS TO ANY MEMBER OF GOVERNMENT.

    B. NO BILL SHALL BE PUT FORTH THAT FAVORS CORPORATIONS OVER PEOPLE.

    1. ANY BILL CURRENTLY ON THE BOOKS THAT SIGNIFICANTLY FAVORS ANY INDIVIDUAL, CORPORATION, OR INDUSTRY, OVER ANY OTHER IS HEREBY NULL AND VOID. EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE PERTAIN TO THE POOR, HANDICAPPED, AND SENIOR CITIZENS.

    a. ALL PEOPLE DESERVE TO HAVE SHELTER, HEAT, FOOD, AND CLOTHING.

    b. THE US GOVERNMENT SHALL PROVIDE COMMUNITIES WITH FUNDS TO HOUSE, FEED, AND CLOTHE ITS VUNERABLE POPULATIONS.

    1. INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF MAKING THEIR OWN DECISIONS SHALL BE ALLOWED TO STAY HOMELESS IF SO DESIRED.

    2. SINGLE PEOPLE WILL BE GIVEN ACCOMODATIONS BASED ON GENDER IN A GROUP HOME OR BARRACKS LIKE SETTING.

    3. COUPLES AND FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN SHALL BE ALLOWED AT LEAST A HEATED ROOM TO SLEEP IN. THEY MAY ALSO BE HOUSED IN A GROUP HOME LIKE SETTING ONCE FAMILY PRIVACY IS ESTABLISHED.

    4. THE US GOVERNMENT AND OTHER ENTITIES SHALL ALLOW DECOMMISSIONED ARMED FORCES BASES AS A PLACE TO FEED AND HOUSE PEOPLE WHO WISH TO BE HOUSED. ALSO ANY BUILDING CURRENTLY NOT IN USE FOR THE PAST 2 YEARS, CAN BE ACQUIRED THROUGH IMMINANT DOMAIN TO HOUSE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS.

    5. THOSE WHO WISH TO BE HOUSED AND ARE NOT HANDICAPPED OR ELDERLY (OVER 62) MUST HAVE AN ACTIVE JOB SEARCH, SCHOOLING WITH HIGHER EDUCATION OR G.E.D. ATTAINMENT IN PROCESS. ALSO THEY MUST PUT AT LEAST 15 HOURS PER WEEK IN WORKING IN A VOLUNTEER CAPACITY AT EITHER A NON PROFIT OR IN A GOVERNMENT BACKED ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP CAPACITY, AND NOT TO INCLUDE CHEMICALLY OR NUCLEAR HAZARDOUS CLEAN UP DUTIES LIKE OIL SPILLS.

    V. NO SUBSIDY OR TAX BREAK SHALL BE GIVEN TO ANY CORPORATION, BUSINESS ENTITY, FACTORY FARM, OR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION.

    A. MONIES CAN BE GRANTED TO ENTITIES THAT WORK TOWARDS SOCIAL ISSUES LIKE HOMELESSNESS, DRUG ABUSE, FOSTER CARE, ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP, FOOD BANKS, AND THOSE THINGS THAT IMPROVE THE LIVES OF COMMUNITIES AND THEIR INDIVIDUALS.

    B. MONIES CAN ALSO BE GRANTED FOR ANIMAL WELFARE PROVIDED THE MONIES GO TOWARD FEEDING, VETERANARY COSTS, HOUSING, AND TAKING CARE OF ANIMALS THAT HAVE BEEN ABUSED OR ABANDONNED.

    C. NO GOVERNMENT MONIES SHALL BE GRANTED TO FOR PROFIT OR RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS.

    D. ALL INCOME, SHALL BE TAXED IN A PROGRESSIVE MANNER SO THAT THE MORE MONEY MADE, THE GREATER THE TAX ON THOSE MONIES.

    1. THE FIRST $ 25,000 OF INCOME WILL NOT HAVE A FEDERAL INCOME TAX BUT WILL HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE TAX EXCEPT FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY ON SOCIAL SECURITY.

    2. NO CORPORATE OR BUSINESS DEDUCTIONS WILL BE ALLOWED, AND CORPORATIONS AND BUSINESSES WILL BE TAXED ON ALL MONIES MADE, NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE LOCATED OR WHERE THE MONEY WAS MADE.

    3. THERE WILL NO LONGER BE ANY DEDUCTIONS EXCEPT THE FIRST $20,000 OF INCOME.

    4. INCOME WILL BE TAXED AT THE FOLLOWING RATES.

    $25,001 TO $100,000 — 8 % FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    $100,001 TO $1,000,000 — 15% FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    $1,000,001 TO $20,000,000 –25% FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    $20,000,001 TO $500,000,000 — 35% FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    $500,000,001 TO $1,000,000,000 –45% FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    $1,000,000,001 AND UP –75% FEDERAL INCOME TAX

    5. THERE WILL NO LONGER BE A CAP ON THE AMOUNT OF MONEY TAXED FOR SOCIAL SECURITY. THOSE MAKING MORE THAN $500,000/YR WILL PAY A 22% SS TAX. EVERY ONE BELOW $500,000 WILL PAY 16% TO BE SPLIT BETWEEN A WORKER AND THEIR EMPLOYER.

  • Dr. J Simonds

    Any legislation heavily restricting/elinimating lobbying might itself face the joint financial forces of the lobby industry and it’s re-election influence on members congress. Without a titanic groundswell of popular support, I doubt there is nearly enough political courage to pass such legislation.