December 15, 2012

Another View: Mainers should support public financing of federal campaigns

A form of campaign finance from Maine merits the entire congressional delegation's backing.

By CUSHMAN D. ANTHONY

I was pleased to see Severin Beliveau speaking out about the excessive use of money in politics, and asking for improvements in Maine's Clean Election system ("Political fundraising: 'Enough is enough'" Dec. 2). He is right. Maine politics look more like Washington politics all the time.

But he stops short of advocating for change in the national political and elective system. Why? Shouldn't we be working at least as hard to improve the elective process in Washington as we are working to keep Augusta from resembling that?

Congress desperately needs to adopt a publicly funded Clean Election-type system. It could be based either on what we are doing in Maine or on what I understand is being tried in New York City.

Only publicly funded campaigns will stop congresspeople from looking to lobbyists to find the money they need for their re-election campaigns.

Not surprisingly, over time their votes tend more and more to reflect the views of the groups represented by those lobbyists rather than the concerns of their constituents.

The Fair Elections Now Act is a bipartisan proposal that was introduced last year, and had the support of Common Cause, Public Campaign and other public interest groups.

To her credit, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree signed on quickly as a co-sponsor. Unfortunately, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe never took that step, despite being asked to do so by groups of Mainers.

I believe passing that act would cut the dependent relationship that has developed between congresspeople and the lobbyists who represent large corporate interests.

It is time to get money as much out of politics as possible, on the national level as well as in Maine.

I thank Beliveau for his op-ed piece, but it does not go far enough. We need to improve both the Maine Clean Election system and the election process for congresspeople.

Cushman D. Anthony is a resident of Falmouth.

 

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