The Peril of Promises

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Embattled Rep. John Doolittle(R-CA) is trying to get back on the good side of his constituents after barely keeping his seat in the 2006 mid-term elections. Trying to put his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and allegations of unethical fundraising activity behind him, he's promising greater accountability, and more attention to constituents. A fine gesture, but can he be for real?


Consider that, given his status as a vulnerable incumbent, he's sure to face a challenge for his seat in 2008 he has to build a massive campaign war chest. Even candidates in less competitive districts spend huge chunks of time fundraising so you better believe Doolittle will be either on the phone with big donors or at lavish fundraisers scooping up thousand dollar checks for much of the next two years. It won't leave much time for the majority of his constituents who can't give big to campaigns -- it's an iniquity reinforced by our current campaign financing system that rewards relationships with wealthy special interests over relationships with voters.


If Doolittle wants to repair his credibility with voters, he needs to address the circumstances that keep elected officials in little rooms dialing for dollars, and most voters out in the cold. If congressional candidates had the benefits of a Clean Elections full public financing system available to them, they could follow through on promises like Doolittle's to spend more time with constituents and be accountable only to them. Already 109 members of Congress have gone on the record in support of a full public financing system for congressional elections -- Doolittle should join them.