Alaska State Rep. Berta Gardner takes exception to allegations that the proposed Clean Elections program for state has a bias towards the left side of the aisle, making the point in this Anchorage Daily News editorial that concern over the excessive influence of money in politics transcends party boundaries among voters.
If you want to talk about the cost of public financing, writes Gardner, let's first talk about what the current system with all its boondoggles costs voters:
The chief argument against Clean Elections is that it would use public money for politics. The fact is, under the current system, corporate donors have a huge influence on how public money is spent. We need only look as far as the PPT tax and the current bribery charges to see the influence of big money contributors in Alaska. The extras for special interests in this year's capital budget could have easily funded a Clean Election system many times over. The estimated $5 million price tag is a bargain when we consider the potential long-term savings to the state.
Gardner is right on the money (as it were) and this editorial will no doubt aid the efforts of Clean Elections supporters who are gathering signatures to place a Clean Elections initiative on the ballot. Voters of all party persuasions are concerned that campaign fundraising is skewing the priorities of legislators and want to see something done -- Gardner cites a poll showing 70% support for public financing among Alaska residents which is right in line with the three-quarters of voters across the country who support such a system at the national level. Surely elected officials can follow the lead of their constituents and transcend party lines to recognize the value in a Clean Elections program.