Election donors want public financing
Saturday, October 25, 2008 7:00 AM
A recent survey by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) reveals Iowa political donors' overwhelming belief that there is too much money in politics and that they support public financing of elections through measures such as Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections (VOICE).
More than 2,800 Iowans who donated to Iowa candidates in state and national elections in 2006 and 2007 were contacted, and 1,502 responded - 702 Republicans, 623 Democrats and 177 independents.
When asked, "Many people believe there is too much money in the political process. Do you agree or disagree?" nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) said they agreed, including 89 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of independents.
They were asked: "Some states have passed laws that provide a limited amount of public financing to qualified candidates who agree to take no or little private money and who agree to limit their campaign spending. Do you favor or oppose Iowa passing a campaign finance reform law like this?" Seventy-three percent favored public financing as a way to reduce the role that money is playing in our political process, including 75 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of independents surveyed.
Thousands of Iowans are pushing candidates to find out where they stand on public financing of elections. The VOICE bill would shift lawmakers' attention away from fund raising and allow them to spend their campaign time focused on constituents rather than special interests. It ended the 2008 session in the House and Senate appropriations committees.
"It's great to see such overwhelming support for public finance of campaigns, especially with large political donors," said CCI member Judy Lonning of Des Moines. "We've been working hard to put the issue of VOICE before our candidates, who will see just how much their supporters want a system where people matter more, and money matters less."
Bipartisan bills are being prepared for the 2009 session of the Legislature limiting the amount of money Iowans can give to candidates and approving VOICE. With both major parties stressing reform, Iowans have a real chance to reduce the influence of big money in Iowa elections. Let's hope Iowans are just as passionate about following through with real change in Iowa politics and legislative leaders are ready to listen.
Tim Urban is the president of Urban Development Corp. and a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
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