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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Progress in Placer County?

As we posted back in June, some folks in Placer County, CA (the county to the northeast of Sacramento) want to stop the big-money freight train which is steamrolling the county's elections. Art Campos of The Sacramento Bee reports that supporters of campaign reform have filed a ballot initiative with election officials that would limit campaign contributions to $250 per donor.

Especially during a presidential election, it's easy to forget how wealthy interests use relatively big campaign contributions to exert undue influence at the local level, where many important decisions are often made. The proof is in the puddin' - developers gave one recent Placer candidate half of the record-setting $236,000 he collected in campaign contributions, and another candidate at least half the $158,000 she raised. You don't suppose these developers are throwin' money away do you?

Of course not. They want development, so they back pro-development candidates with huge sums of cash. Normal folks who might disagree with the developers can't afford that kinda cash, so they're stuck hopin' for somebody who happens to agree with them on the issues who either is rich enough or has rich enough friends to compete. I don't remember anything from grade school about a democracy needing some kinda white knight to accurately reflect the will of the people.

And yet, that's where we are when wealthy interests are allowed to bankroll the candidacies and campaigns of people who agree with them. The folks in Placer County aren't saying that wealthy folks have no voice in elections, but that wealthy folks should have the same voice as the rest of us. And that sounds a lot like what I learned in grade school.

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