Friday, January 07, 2005

On the Outside Looking In

this is an audio post - click to play

As Joe Biesk of the Associated Press reports, the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance has formed a task force to study campaign finance laws. A taskforce to study the problems of money in politics? What a great idea!

Here's the projected lineup for the taskforce: representatives from the House and Senate, the judiciary, the governor's office, the attorney general's office, the Democratic and Republican parties, county clerks, lobbyists and campaign treasurers. In other words, all the various powerbrokers and pockets of influence in Lexington, the state capitol.

According to John Rogers, chairman of the Registry, this mix was calibrated because the registry wanted "folks that interact with campaign finance from all different angles".

All different angles? What about the Kentucky public? What about the folks that don't affiliate with one of the parties? What about the folks that can't afford to give a candidate $1,000 for a primary election and another $1,000 for the general election? What about candidates who don't spend months courting big donors, who don't owe their first allegiance to an elite cadre of sugar daddies, who actually want to represent all the people of Kentucky?

Last week, just across the river in Ohio, the governor signed a campaign finance "reform" bill that quadrupled the amount of money rich folks can give to candidates and opened up Ohio politics to corporate contributions for the first time in 100 years. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, one of the taskforce's insiders, has already indicated that he thinks one necessary "reform" is to move away from public financing, a program which levels the playing field for candidates to compete with big money's little helpers.

As long as political powerbrokers and lobbyists dominate the Kentucky taskforce at the expense of the broader public, most folks in Kentucky will find themselves in the same place as their Ohio brethren: on the outside of the political process, looking in.

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