Friday, April 30, 2004
Chris Norby is a county supervisor in southern California. He's upset because his favorite wealthy interests can only give him $1400 under the local campaign finance laws. I guess he has different friends than the rest of us, who can't give anywhere near that amount due more to our family finances than what any law might say.
So, Norby is leading an effort to raise the contribution limits up to $3400 -- the same very high amount set by the state for legislators. Norby says here, in the Los Angeles Times, that the current limits -- called TINCUP -- haven't led to better local government:
"Since TINCUP [passed], we've had four supervisors forced to resign, two supervisors indicted and one treasurer jailed as a result of the biggest municipal bankruptcy in history," Norby said. "TINCUP hasn't done anything to clean up politics."
His solution is to inject more money into politics, rather than less. Perhaps the problem with the current law is that it was initiated by business interests who thought it was getting too expensive for them to dominate local elections. By setting limits that were still beyond the reach of most citizens, they were able to keep their advantage in determining who wins elections while spending less to do it. If that's the case, perhaps the solution lies more in lowering contribution limits rather than raising them.