Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, April 16, 2009

CLEAN MESS

State GOP leader calls Clean Elections unconstitutional: I read with interest your recent article [about Clean Elections] and was delighted to learn that your in-depth examination has revealed what Republicans in Arizona have argued since the inception of the program nearly a decade ago: The law lacks the fundamental understanding of our First Amendment right to free speech, in any of its various forms, including financial contributions to state and local candidates for office who share your political views.

The Goldwater Institute rightfully asserts that Arizona's Clean Elections statutes are a violation of our First Amendment right to free speech and, thereby, unconstitutional. In fact, as the piece clearly illustrates, the system of publicly financed campaigns does more harm than good to our election process. The political reality is that the system rewards fringe candidates with little public support and discourages civic leaders from taking part in the process.

Frankly, I'm encouraged that New Times would print such an insightful article, and you are to be commended for your diligence in interviewing various candidates — from both sides of the aisle — who clearly describe that our worst fears are indeed coming to fruition. I would like to also mention who was the key proponent and financier behind this voter initiative: none other than Jim Pederson, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and former chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.

As we have learned time and again, government does very little well and usually at a great expense. Clean Elections is no exception and is a gigantic waste of taxpayers' hard-earned money. With the elimination of just this particular program, how many teachers' jobs could we save? How many after-school programs could be fully funded?

It is my hope that this article builds on the groundswell of bipartisan opposition against this ill-conceived voter initiative. From all indications, I expect that the litigation the Goldwater Institute has brought forward [will be] successful in sweeping this unfortunate governmental intrusion on our constitutional rights into Arizona's history books.
Randy Pullen, Arizona Republican Party chairman

Get rid of the law: Sarah Fenske's Clean Elections law story was spot-on. She brought up all the problems with the law, identifying what needs to be done. Get rid of the damn law!
Sandy Richardson, Phoenix

Same ol', same ol' without Clean Elections: There are many times when candidates without the wherewithal to run for office are able to do so because of Clean Elections' funds. You focused too much on the problems and not enough on the good.

Clean Elections means more independent candidates, and not the same ol', same ol' who keep getting elected in this state, because they get plenty of money from special interests.
Andrew White, Phoenix

Simply close the loopholes: We shouldn't throw Clean Elections away because there are loopholes. Close the loopholes, and it will still be a good idea.

Of course, it's bad that some fringe candidates use the money as "personal slush funds," but they are the exception, not the rule.
Beth Spitz, Tucson

Playing a rich person's game: There'll be a load of big-spending pols who will agree with the premise in Sarah Fenske's story that it's bad for taxpayers to fund candidates who couldn't otherwise run. But aren't these kinds of office-seekers at the foundation of our democracy?

Who knows, maybe one of them will eff up and win.

We can't just return to the time when seeking office was a rich person's game only. Sure, there are abuses, but stop them and move ahead with what was — and is — a good idea.
Lisa Summerfield, Denver

We can't afford this law: Sarah Fenske's story exposed an outrage in these hard economic times. We can no longer afford this law. Clean Elections financing sushi dinners. The very idea!
Franklin Dent, Bullhead City

Responsibility remains on the voters: There are a number of cases in which Clean Elections helped a good candidate run without raising money left and right. There will always be those who game the system.

Is it better to have only those who can raise money from special interests running? The voters have to be smart enough to see through the frauds.

In this state, some voters will vote for the most extreme candidate, regardless. That is how Governor Ev Mecham got into office. Even without Clean Elections on the federal level, buffoon [Congressman] Trent Franks keeps getting re-elected, because voters blindly vote for this one-track ideologue.
Name withheld

Make all campaigns publicly funded: How's this for real reform? All political campaigns are publicly funded. No candidate can spend his own money or raise a penny from anyone. To get on the ballot to begin with, a candidate would have to get a qualifying number of signatures, and he couldn't hire anyone to do that for him.

Media ads, up to X amount of dollars, would be available to all candidates at taxpayer expense, and no other media buys would be allowed — period. Ha, this would be a level playing field. No private money at all allowed.
Name withheld

Money does not equal free speech: The problem is that the First Amendment has somehow been corrupted by court interpretation to mean "spending unlimited amounts of money equals free speech."

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2 comments
Pauline44
Pauline44

Bishop Olmsted is hiding a David Ostler at Prince of Peace in Sun City West,Az Ostler is on the SNAP list of alter boy abusers.

Aisha Mcclary
Aisha Mcclary

can you please email the address of Tent City Jail so i can write an inmate?

 
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