by Cliff Tery |
Public interest would be better served by public financing of campaigns for the General Assembly
Many of the legislators you lobby on environmental issues depend heavily for their campaign funding on contributions from businesses and industry trade associations. And the financial self-interest of many of these big contributors puts them on the anti-environment side of some of the issues you care most about.
Big campaign contributions cannot help but influence General Assembly members votes on bills that will help or hurt the contributors.
No amount of tinkering with the current system of financing campaigns will solve this problem. We need a new system: public financing of General Assembly campaigns, as recommended by the Study Commission on Public Funding of Campaigns in Maryland. This system would be similar to those working well for several years now in Maine and Arizona.
All General Assembly candidates who wish to receive public funding would first have to show broad public support by collecting a specified number and amount of qualifying contributions from registered voters in their districts. They must agree to abide by spending limits set for each office.
Please call your senator, especially if on the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee, where the hearing was March 3. And please call your delegates, especially if on the Ways and Means Committee, where the hearing was March 2.
Tell them the current system encourages public cynicism about the influence of big contributions on legislators votes, and that it forces candidates to spend too much time asking for money, time they should be spending talking to voters and, in the case of incumbents, doing their jobs.
Cliff Terry can be reached at 410-944-9477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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