Public Financing

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Having the Option

North Carolina faces an unusual problem with its ten Council of State positions. In addition to having a very high number of these regulatory positions chosen by election, low levels of voter interest in their elections means that campaign support comes largely from industries and interests that serve to benefit directly from Council of State decisions.

Edwards Goes With Public Financing

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards announced he'll be participating in the presidential public financing system for the primary, and will also participate in the program in the general election if he is the nominee and if the Republican nominee agrees to do the same.

Here, courtesy of the New York Times, is what his campaign had to say about his decision:

 

Money Drain

Jay Mandle, professor at Colgate University and part of Democracy Matters, an organization that involves students in supporting Clean Elections efforts, has this article up at the Huffington Post tracking the level of public faith in government relative to the amount of private money in elections.

Workable Solution

Everyone is chewing over the bundler problem -- both in terms of the influence they exert over, and the potential liability they can be to candidates. Some preach better background research on where the money is coming from and some, like the Hartford Courant, counsel more sweeping reform.

From the Courant:

 

Hsu Lessons

The news that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will return the $850,000 she collected from Democratic bundler, and wanted felon, Norman Hsu gets praise from Forbes, and a warning from the Washington Post that is further evidence that our campaign finance system is due for a change.

Strange Contrast

Interesting development: Kentucky state Sen. Damon Thayer (R) has introduced a bill to increase the frequency of campaign finance disclosure reports that candidates must submit in an effort to boost transparency of campaign finances. Incidentally, Thayer is the same Senator who worked to get rid of the public financing program for gubernatorial campaigns that Kentucky had.

His rationale for supporting one measure but not the other is interesting:

 

What Exactly is "Lobbyist Money"

CQPolitics digs in to the campaign promises of John Edwards and Barack Obama to not accept direct contributions from federal lobbyists in their respective bids for the White House. Emily Cadei spoke with Public Campaign's Nick Nyhart for the article, and he talked about why this promise, though a good start, does not fully address the way lobbyist cash can influence elections.

Some excerpts from the piece:

 

System Failures

The Albany Times Union gives New York Governor Eliot Spitzer a bit of a slap upside the head for the way he's handling a contract for who will run the state's racetracks -- and all four competitors have donated to his campaign.

Ask for More

Delaware's News Journal isn't looking forward to the first $1 billion dollar presidential race and a line of candidates with their hands out: "You can imagine the promises they are making and the debts they will owe." Yes, indeed. But while the paper is right to call for disclosure of the high-powered bundlers behind the mega-fundraising numbers they're wrong to say that it's the best we can hope for.

The Measure of the Man

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is hinting at the possibility of opting in to the presidential public financing program for the primary election, triggering debate over whether opting in (and perhaps standing at a significant financial disadvantage compared to some rivals) proves the continued relevance of the public financing program, or is a signal of a dying campaign.