No, it’s still not an excuse

The Sun takes John Leopold’s latest ethical problem and morphs it into yet another call for public financing of campaigns:

That’s why high on the agenda for state legislators when they reconvene in January is a proposal to create a system of public financing of political campaigns. Senators, delegates and their challengers would be freed from the ethical uncertainties posed by taking money from individuals with high-stakes decisions pending before the state.

It’s a system that has worked well in Arizona and Maine. Candidates qualify by raising enough seed money from enough contributors. They can then qualify for public funds – the amount depends on several variables, including whether their race is contested and whether it’s a House or Senate seat. The estimated $7 million annual price tag for the program would be financed by funds the state collects each year from unclaimed accounts.

The House approved the proposal in 2006, but the bill fell just one vote short in the Senate last year. That should change, particularly if two suburban Baltimore senators, Edward J. Kasemeyer and Bobby A. Zirkin, will recall the commitment to reform they both preached as candidates in 2006, and endorse the measure. The program’s cost isn’t cheap, but lessening the often-harmful influence of money in Annapolis would be a bargain at twice the price.

And as I have mentioned multiple times in the past, the Sun still doesn’t understand that they are proposing an expensive boondoggle that will accomplish nothing. When you are dealing with people as dishonest as John Leopold and Tommy Bromwell, public financing isn’t going to make them angels, nor is it really going to even the playing field. I noted almost two years ago:

What I do not understand is why we need to fund elections from the public treasury. $7.5 million seems like it could be much better spent on hiring new teachers for struggling schools than turning politicians and consultants loose with the money. Besides, how many times have you seen a legislative candidate win despite being tremendously outspent by an opponent, winning solely on grassroots support and shoe leather? It happens every year, will certainly happen again this year, and in every year from here into the future. These Democratic Delegates seem to be addressing a concern that nobody has. It is a pointless reform proposal that accomplishes nothing but feel-good press snippets.

And it still holds true to this day. The fact of the matter is that anybody who thinks that by spending millions of dollars that could be better spent on other things (or, you know, rebated to the taxpayers) is going to get them clean elections needs to have their intelligence questioned.


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