Friday, May 11, 2007

Gronstal and McCarthy on Clean Elections

Sen. Mike Gronstal and Rep. Kevin McCarthy were in Marshalltown this afternoon to speak about legislative accomplishments. I went wanting to hear their opinions on the VOICE legislation that would have brought clean elections to Iowa. Someone else asked about VOICE before I could get a chance to.

Gronstal responded by saying that he is a fan of getting the influence of money out of politics, but the VOICE legislation had somethings in it that weren't the best. Gronstal talked about the study group created to look into the issue of clean elections. He then said that he will work with groups that are friendly, a clear shot at the incident at the State House with clean elections supporters.

McCarthy then discussed the issue. McCarthy said that people need to remember that we are on the same team with the goal of campaign finance reform. He then discussed two issues that he had wtih the VOICE legislation. First, the bill includes primaries. McCarthy said that if someone in his district is upset with one of his votes all they would have to do is get 100 people to donate $5 each and they would be eligible for tax payer money to run. Second, McCarthy said the VOICE legislation would make it illegal for House leaders to funnel money to other races. Right now the House leaders are able to raise unlimited amounts of money and then can dish that money out to candidates in targetted races.

I have to disagree with both of McCarthy's reason for not wanting VOICE. In fact, I think they are exactly the reasons we need clean elections. Right now the need for money to run limits the number of people who can run for office. In Marshall Co. in 2004 there was a tight race for State Senate. The Democratic challenger raised nearly $300,000 and lost. That same seat is up in 2008. When people consider running for that race, they know they will have to raise $300,000 to $400,000 dollars to even have a chance. The key to a strong democracy is the fact that any can run and win if their ideas are appealing to the voters. As a House leader, it is no wonder that McCarthy likes the idea of being able to dish out the money. However, House leaders should not be dishing out money to other House members. At the DFA training in March, Tom Vilsack had this to say...

... the House members have a limited number of dollars that they can raise within their own district. The Speaker gets all of this money funneled through them where they then give to House members and then makes sure the House member remembers where they got the money from. The VOICE legislation would take this out of our political system.
People agree that money has too much influence in our political system and it turns people off from participating in our Democracy. We can pay lipservice to the issue or we can stand on principle and fix a system that is broken.


bgunzy said...

"Gronstal closed the meeting with his usual statements, 'Good night, have a safe drive home, and f**k you, f**k all of you.'"

The Real Sporer said...

Isn't your headline an oxymoron?

Same day voter registration with no ID? I don't think they could even say clean and elections in the same sentence.

desmoinesdem said...

Weak, weak, weak. Back when Republicans controlled the legislature, I asked Gronstal about clean elections, and he said he passed a similar bill in 1992 (vetoed by Branstad) and would be happy to pass it again if it had any chance of being enacted.

Cheap talk.

McCarthy's points make no sense. If you exclude primaries, then how is a candidate without significant wealth or fundraising ability ever going to get the nomination?

Is he that afraid of a primary challenge from some disgruntled voter?

Reinforces my decision to give zero money to the House and Senate leadership funds. I will support individual candidates.

Pay no attention to Mr. Sporer. As this post by Josh Marshall indicates, the Bush DOJ has tried mightily to prosecute voter fraud but can hardly find any examples of it anywhere in the country. When right-wing hack prosecutors in Wisconsin and Missouri have tried cases, they have been slapped down by the courts.

Minnesota has same-day registration and has not experienced problems.

just6dollars said...

Good point on the prohibitive effect that the need for money has on more people running for office. Did you know that 10 of the major party candidates for president are millionaires?