Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lagging Behind Corrupticut

A recent New York Times editorial highlighted the fact that Connecticut is the latest state to put in place sweeping campaign finance reforms featuring full public financing of state elections. This is the first year the state that became known as "Corrupticut" is operating under the new system and, as the Times pointed out, early signs are very encouraging.

Connecticut's reform was modeled after the highly successful systems in Arizona and Maine. Maine has been publicly financing its state elections since 2000 and electoral competition has spiked. More people are running for public office, including significantly more women, and state legislative races are now five times less likely to be uncontested.

Connecticut took action after corruption scandals resulted in a former governor, a state senator and two mayors going to prison. In stark contrast, Wisconsin has so far failed to act even after six powerful former legislators were paraded into courtrooms and, in several of the cases, eventually were put behind bars for criminal misconduct in public office.

Wisconsin used to lead the nation. We were known far and wide for public policy innovation, not to mention open and honest government. Now when it comes to cleaning up growing political corruption, even the likes of lowly "Corrupticut" are beating us to the punch.

This is a telling measure of just how miserably our state leaders have failed as stewards of our democracy.


Jack Lohman said...

Wisconsin Dems have an opportunity to clean up the political system and secure their leadership for decades to come, but will they? Or will we continue with the see-saw and have to throw the newly elected Dems out in 2010?

Jack Lohman

Reaganknight said...

It's horribly naive to think public financing would keep money out of politics. The pols with the moneyed connections (read: incumbents) would simply shift their resources to the 527s - or the state-level equivalents - which aren't covered by McCain-Feingold.
Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize campaigns for people with whom they disagree. If candidates want to get their message out, they should go door to door asking for donations like the Girl Scouts.
Public financing is simply another avenue for maximum return (i.e. a gov't handout) for minimal effort.

Anonymous said...

Reaganknight says public financing is just a way to get "maximum return" in the form of government handouts for minimal effort. Much more handsome returns on investment are achieved in the private money game. See this and this.

Talk about maximum handouts for minimal effort....

Anonymous said...

Another really stupid thing "Reaganknight" said about why public financing is wrong was that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize campaigns. We are paying through the nose for campaigns every time politicians reward their big donors at the taxpayer's expense.