Nonprofit Newswire | Poll: Public Campaign Financing Desireable

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January 28, 2010; The New Haven Register | Among this journal’s several critiques of the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance was that all the tinkering with the rules and standards for private financing of Federal electoral campaigns would never work. The slickest of operatives would always find one loophole or another to funnel corporate and special interest money into the coffers of candidates, most of whom would likely take it with little or no complaint. It would be fruitless and silly for 501(c)(3) nonprofits to advocate diverting their charitable resources toward election-time issue ads to compete with much better heeled corporate interests. The money imbalance is way out of whack and the losses to charitable needs would potentially be enormous. Our position all along has been public financing of campaigns. Lo and behold, Common Cause commissioned a Zogby International Poll of Connecticut residents and found that 79 percent agreed with us by favoring a public campaign finance system. Connecticut is an interesting state for the poll: Ned Lamont, who spent $15 million from his own wealth to campaign against Joseph Lieberman for the U.S. Senate, is now preparing to devote bigtime personal money to his campaign for governor to compete against Republican opponent Tom Foley who has already put down $2 million of his personal cash toward the campaign. Those polled get the picture: without a comprehensive, mandatory regime of publicly financed campaigns, American democracy is going to be limited to people with spare millions here and there to spend to get elected.—Rick Cohen