All Together Now

This write up of a panel discussion on lobbying, and lobbyist influence via campaign contributions, hosted at Baruch College really underscores a sentiment that the privately financed model of campaigns is serving no one well. Ordinary voters without special access are tired of feeling shut out, and lobbyists are tired of being the bad guys in a game they have to play.

Some interesting excerpts:


Sid Davidoff complained that he is now “a second class citizen,” because his neighbor can give money that is matched with federal funds, but he cannot, since he is a registered lobbyist. [...]

Dadey extolled the value of the information, context, and guidance that lobbyists provide to officials and citizens, then added: “You wouldn’t go into a court room without a lawyer,” and the same is true of City Hall.

But his concern is when lobbyists - whether unwittingly or not - bring undue influence to the process with their contributions. “If it doesn’t get them attention [from officials], why would they contribute so much?”

We should get away from discussions about changing the way we finance campaigns in which whole groups of people are turned into "the enemy." In truth, our system as it stands puts a price tag on power and whether you're forced to dig into your wallet to engage in the policy debate or left on the sidelines because your pockets aren't deep enough you'd be better off backing a full public financing system.