Letters to the Editor: January 23 – 29, 2020
We Must Address Corrupt Campaign Finance System
Jan. 21 marked the 10th anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling which, combined with lax campaign finance laws in Virginia, unleashed a flood of money in our elections. Electoral contributions in Virginia totaled $121.5 million in 2019, double from 2011, with nearly $25 million coming from outside the state.
In Virginia, legislators, unique in our nation, are bound by no limits on campaign contributions which they can then use for personal use. Historically this has allowed business and special interests to dictate state pipeline policies, underfund schools, and keep tobacco taxes low and payday interest rates high. Yet, last year, over 10 campaign finance bills were introduced in the last Virginia General Assembly where they died.
Eighty percent of Americans, irrespective of party, are increasingly disenfranchised by the domination of our political system by corporate interests. In a recent survey undertaken by the Virginia chapter of American Promise, which works to end the corrosive impact of money, nearly 90 percent of respondents supported campaign finance reform in Virginia while 80 percent want Virginia to join the 20 other states who passed resolutions endorsing a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution to get big money out of politics.
In Jamestown, last year, we celebrated the 400th anniversary of representative democracy in our country. Yet, in 2020, we are being held hostage to unregulated money and a government not responsive to the people. To date, 209 legislators in the House of Representatives, including Reps. Beyer, Connolly, Spanberger, McEachin, and Wexton, have signed a resolution proposing an amendment to the U.S. constitution which allows Congress to limit big money in politics. Kudos to them.
Meanwhile, let’s push our Virginia legislators, including Senator Saslow and others, to tackle our corrupt system by doing the right thing by passing bills imposing limits on campaign contributions, banning donations by public service corporations, restricting personal use of campaign contributions, increasing disclosure, and investing in the public funding of elections.
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