**Editor's Note: Out of excitement for the upcoming campaign of Jim Hansen, who in an announcement yesterday at the Ada County JFK Banquet threw his hat into the congressional race for Idaho's 2nd District, I am posting this article that I originally wrote for the ISU Bengal (an article that somehow mysteriously disappeared into thin air without ever being printed...) Originally I had prepared to debate this topic in the College Republican/College Democrat debate during Political Awareness Week at ISU that was a flop. I then wrote a letter to the editor of The Bengal expressing my disappointment in the debate and the College Republicans conceded and asked me for a debate article on the topic which they didn't counter. Long story short I've waited too long to share this and I find it more than appropriate to post today. Good luck, Jim!
The National Democratic Party Platform states: "It is the priority of the Democratic Party to fulfill the promise of election reform." What does this mean? Not only does this include voting system technology, it includes campaign finance reform. The Idaho Democratic Party Platform (adopted 6/19/04) states: "We endorse full public financing of political campaigns modeled on other states' Clean Money-Clean Elections reforms." What are Clean Money-Clean Election reforms?
The Clean Money- Clean Elections (CMCE) reform approach is a positive alternative to the current system of fundraising and spending in political campaigns. Currently fundraising and spending centers around large amounts of special-interest money. The CMCE approach gives qualified candidates the opportunity to run for public office while maintaining their independence from special-interest groups' obvious strong interest in public policy.
Clean Money- Clean Elections reform is completely voluntary. Candidates do not have to participate and are allowed to continue campaigning under the current system of raising and spending private money. There are four essential components of the CMCE approach: qualifications, primary funding, general election funding, and independent expenditures relating to non-participating candidates.
For a candidate to be qualified, he/she must meet ballot access requirements and the "eligibility threshold" for Clean Money funding. Most CMCE proposals require candidates to collect a certain number of signatures and $5 qualifying contributions from registered voters in their state or respective district during a specified qualifying period. Seed money (money from private contributors not to exceed $100 per contributor) may be used during the qualifying period to cover start-up costs.
Primary funding for candidates who meet CMCE qualifications and requirements that have agreed to not raise or spend private money post-qualifying period includes a set monetary amount from the Clean Money fund.
General election funding from the CMCE fund is given in a set monetary amount to candidates who win their party primaries as well as to independent candidates who agree to the voluntary restrictions on spending.
In regard to non-participating candidates and independent expenditures, in an attempt to keep it a financially level playing field, Clean Money candidates that have been out-spent by those privately financed opponents may be allowed limited amounts of matching funds.
Clean Money- Clean Elections campaign reform exists and is effective in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont. On a national scale it has the support of several senators and representatives including the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Rep. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. John Tierney, and Rep. John Conyers. On the state level, the CMCE reforms are endorsed by and supported by Jim Hansen of the United Vision for Idaho.
The problems of campaigns that are too expensive, amid ridiculous amounts of special-interest influence, by means of candidates spending too much time "chasing" money, lacking fairness and the chance to compete, and current campaign finance laws that have far too many loopholes, are solved by the CMCE approach of providing acceptable spending limits, denying candidates the opportunity to take special-interest money, eliminating the need for fundraising, providing a financially level playing field, and providing a comprehensive package that tightens loopholes. Clean Money- Clean Elections campaign reform is a smart and positive alternative to a weak and outdated current system.