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Campaign Finance Reform

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Campaign Finance Reform

In 1873, Judge Edward Ryan asked, "Which shall rule--wealth or Man?"

Political campaigns cost staggering amounts of money--mostly spent on advertising.  Most voters choose the wealth-backed candidates in the two-party tyranny. Voters are unaware of candidates who don't represent wealth or simply ignore them because they don't have a chance to win. Therefore, voters feel compelled to vote for the lesser of two wealth-evils.

At a time when our nation is suffering the disastrous consequences of the Citizens’ United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down campaign finance reform and allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence political campaigns; at a time when public campaign financing is desperately needed, Governor Dayton signed the Omnibus Budget Bill of 2014 which included a suspension of the Political Contribution Refund Program.

There is a widespread belief that our political and economic system is rigged. There is so much distrust among the voting public that the vast majority of voters believe politicians listen more to their donors than their constituents.

The suicidal side effect of distrust creates voter apathy because lawmakers only listen to money.  Unfortunately, the resulting voter disengagement at the futility of voting leaves the foxes guarding the hen-house.

The only way to restore trust in our public officials and institutions is when we all come together to end the “lobbyist industrial complex” of corrupt campaign financing which has enabled the seizure of political power by economic power.

The establishment is tainted by a dependence-corruption on the gift economy of campaign finance. They don’t pay the candidate directly through graft, bribes, kickbacks or under-the-table deals, but rather use a series of favors that compromise public officials with a feeling of personal obligation. Eventually, officials shift their loyalties from the voters, to the so-called malefactors of great wealth.  These influence peddling lobbyists are walking-talking implied-quid-pro-quo’s who bundle corporate contributors to their matching candidates. The officials claim there is no connection between the campaign contribution favors and decisions made; and, indeed, many believe they are un-corrupted. Which begs the question, “Do you think they’re donating huge amounts of dollars and not expecting anything in return?

At any stage of the life of a bill, usually in committee, a campaign contribution can be rewarded--a senator’s anonymous hold on a bill; a chairman who doesn’t assign a hearing for a bill and a whole host of ways legislative power can be exercised without a trace, quiet, effective, and invisible.

The two-party tyranny of reactionary corporate Republicans and regressive corporate Democrats, have slammed the door shut on a long era of shared prosperity and have ushered in the winner-take-all economy.

It’s simply impossible to change the status quo by voting for the status quo; it gives them no reason to change.  Their only motivation to change is when they lose votes. So why waste your vote on immoral candidates with more patriotic allegiance to money than to the voters? It’s time to de-throne the economic royalists who have hijacked political power.


Addressing Campaign Finance Reform

The reform of our broken campaign finance laws depends on instituting directly-funded citizen-owned elections. We need to end the legislator to lobbyist pipeline. In the words that President Ronald Reagan never said, “[Corporate] government isn’t the solution to our problem, [corporate] government IS the problem.”

Republicans like to call campaign financing, “welfare for politicians”, but the alternative is corporate-owned elections and a corporate stranglehold on political power.

In 2010, in a jolting act of judicial activism, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ‘Citizen’s United v. FEC,’ decision lets corporations and billionaires give unlimited amounts of money to Super PACs to influence campaigns. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Buckley v. Valeo that money is a form of speech and there is no limit on what wealthy candidates can spend on their campaigns. Both of these decisions are a form of election fraud.

To overturn these shocking decisions, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution should say, in effect, “Corporations are not people and money is not speech.”  However, ratification should NOT be ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures, but rather by three-quarters of state ‘special’ conventions because of lawmaker loyalty to corporate paymasters. Unfortunately, all but one amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been ratified by three-quarters of state legislatures, not state ‘special’ conventions. Only the 21st Amendment was ratified by state ‘special’ conventions because of the power of the anti-liquor dry-lobby opposed to repeal of the 18th Amendment. The legislatures are made up of the same people who have a conflict-of- interest to maintain corrupt campaign financing.  Therefore, the Minnesota, ‘We the People’ bill, SF 2404 & HF 3650, should be amended to demand ratification by three-quarters of state special conventions. (1)

In 2010, City Pages, “The 10 most influential lobbyists in Minnesota,” (2) said that lobbyists, “write 90-percent of the bills” at the Minnesota Legislature. There is no way for Minnesotans to match the raw financial power of these lobbying groups who are extremely organized; often against the best interests of voters.

Corporations, once our servants, are now our masters.

We should also consider the following reforms that are in practice all around the world:

·         Direct Public Funding given to political parties and/or candidates in the form of bank transfers, democracy vouchers, check or cash

·         Free Advertising on Public Television and Radio for all Candidates

·         Free or Reduced Costs for Advertising on Private Television and Radio for all Candidates

·         Free or Subsidized Advertising in Major Newspapers

·         Free or Subsidized Office Space for Political Party Headquarters or Local Branches

·         Free or subsidized public transportation for candidates, key party activists, or in some cases even for supporters going to political rallies.

·         Interest-free loans for paying registration fees or mounting a basic election campaign

·         Free Access to Public Stadiums and Arenas for Rallies

·         Free or Subsidized Campaign Mailings

·         Access to Political Debates by all Ballot Qualified Candidates--Rarely does the media or major parties address the pressing issues that go un-debated.

·         Other forms of Direct and Indirect Public Funding of Political Parties and Candidates


(1)   2016 SF 2404 – We the People Bill https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?version=latest&session=ls89&number=SF2404&session_year=2016&session_number=0

(2)   01-20-2010 City Pages, “The 10 Most Influential Lobbyists in Minnesota” http://www.citypages.com/news/the-10-most-influential-lobbyists-in-minnesota-6724069