Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, April 16, 2009
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.
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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.
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.
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."
The ones with money are always trying to limit someone else from spending money on free speech, usually some union's speech. But for corporations, the NRA, and the Club for Growth, spending millions means getting the "message" out.
The [small] donations from multiple small donors are really the correct approach. It's too bad the system is manipulated.
Olmsted's as sleazy as the rest: Bishop Thomas Olmsted is just as big a clown as was Thomas O'Brien, only O'Brien was more sinister.
But Olmsted's sinister enough. You've got to admit that the Phoenix area gets what it deserves, a right-winger who hates gays and wants to maintain the old-school Catholic traditions that even moderates in the church are abandoning.
The Bird is correct when he says the reason Olmsted doesn't speak out on illegal immigration is that he represents the interests of the church's biggest benefactors, who keep him in the finest vestments.
Olmsted's just another sleazy politician. Lest we forget, the Catholic Church practically invented dirty politics centuries ago.
Billy Ray Silver, Phoenix
Bishop's smart; Bird's not: Olmsted may have to minister to his flock of illegals, but at least he realizes that it would be wrong to support them publicly. What is The Bird thinking? What about illegal does the Feathered Bastard not understand? Apparently everything.
Harold Hester, Phoenix
Anger management, Dave. Try it: Can't we all just get along? Racial profiling, discrimination, police brutality, false arrest? So many people upset and angry. So many people fed up.
Not to worry, my poor little people. There is a solution to your anguish and pain. Pick up your sorry little asses, and get the hell out of Arizona! Move to Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, or Chicago. You will be murdered and put out of your misery.
Dave Beck, Phoenix
Calling out a fellow reader: I always purposely pick up a copy of New Times every week in front of the sheriff's peons. I am waiting for the day that his peons pull me over for my skin color so I can give them a taste of their own medicine.
For those who don't know history, like Fred Linsenmeyer (Feedback, April 2), they need to go back to school. The natives didn't copulate willingly. The majority were raped by the Spaniards and [other] Europeans.
I love being an American, but I hate being among [Americans] who think everyone is not created equal.
Diane Martinez, Phoenix
Reader's just another Snuffy from AZ: Where did New Times dig up this reader, Fred Linsenmeyer? Did you breathe life into the corpse of some undetected Nazi war criminal who came to Arizona from Germany after World War II?
No, a Nazi would be much more intelligent than Linsenmeyer. Despite his Third Reich-sounding name, he's just another Snuffy from Arizona. A dumbass racist, like Buffalo Rick Galeener.
Don't you just love it when some ignorant idiot like Linsenmeyer starts spouting his version of history — where "white Europeans" are the master race and everybody else is just a "shit-pot" little mud person? This guy deserves a good old-fashioned ass-kicking.
Gabriel Torres, Phoenix
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