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Colby Underwood and me: 11 months with the most important person in Seattle politics

The inside story of political fundraising: 4,577 calls, fold-over peanut butter sandwiches, no time for bathroom breaks, and a very big guy who mastered Seattle's political Matrix.
Colby Underwood, left, with the author on a day the bell got rung.

Colby Underwood, left, with the author on a day the bell got rung. None

The man who may be the single most important person in Seattle politics is 6 feet 11 inches, laughs so loud he wakes up teenagers sleeping a floor below, recites from memory the phone numbers of top contributors, and answers to a name that sounds like a companion to Frodo Baggins: Colby Underwood. If you follow politics just casually, the name means nothing. He rarely appears in news articles. He's aggressive behind the scenes about promoting his business, but he also understands that publicity can backfire on clients. So he keeps a low profile, and those who need to know, do. But ask anyone who has taken a serious look at running for the Seattle City Council and they will likely say the conversation eventually gets to Colby Underwood. I call him Colby in this piece because he and I practically lived together for nearly 11 months in 2005, when I ran for council. He spent more than 15 hours a week at my house, coached me through 4,577 phone calls, overheard family arguments, managed my moods, and ate our Doritos. My dog Wilbur got to like him more than me. By 2005, Colby was already well established as the city's leading fundraising consultant. Today, he is a unique power in Seattle politics. It might be nice to get the endorsement of Peter Steinbrueck, Norm Rice, the Sierra Club, or the dailies. And it's a big help if the mayor backs you with his organization. But Colby is a special force, because his participation gives you instant credibility. With Colby, the big boys and girls in politics know you have a shot at raising the $150,000, $250,000, or perhaps even $300,000 needed to mount a serious run. That possibility terrifies incumbents and intimidates potential rivals. Of course, at this point you get caveats: Some will run regardless of money. Some will win regardless of money. Some can do fine with other fundraising consultants. And some, like me, raise big money but still lose. There are no guarantees. But with Colby Underwood, you're in the hunt. By his estimate, Colby Underwood Consulting has helped candidates and causes raise more than $42 million in five years, including $7.1 million in 2006 alone. He employs eight people. He invests in property. He takes his parents to Hawaii. He's 29 years old. After helping Greg Nickels beat Mark Sidran for mayor in 2001, Colby went on to raise money for congressional candidates Darcy Burner and Dave Ross and others around the region. In a race against City Council incumbent Jan Drago, Colby helped me raise more than $220,000. Burner recently signed him for a second try against U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in 2008. The campaigns of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton are wooing him. To run in Seattle, you might pick as your political consultant Cathy Allen of the Connections Group, John Wyble of Moxie Media, or others, but as your fundraiser, the first consideration is often Colby Underwood. This year, in the five races for Seattle City Council, four candidates hired him: incumbents Tom Rasmussen and Jean Godden; Tim Burgess, who's running against incumbent David Della; and Venus Velazquez, who's running for an open seat. Colby has no one in the fifth race, where no serious challenger has emerged against incumbent Sally Clark; she didn't hire Colby but does understand the importance of raising big money to scare off opponents. She has raised more than $100,000 working with Linda Mitchell of the Connections Group. Follow the money here. When I decided to run in late 2004, Wyble told me I needed to raise $150,000. I nodded, went home, and told my wife that he was crazy. I liked Wyble enormously and respected his wisdom, but that much was an impossible sum. But Colby made it possible. Here's how. You start with a simple Excel list of everybody you've ever known. Your siblings. Your parents' friends. People you know from church, from your kids' school, from work, from the neighborhood. That friend from high school 30 years ago who moved to California? Didn't you have a crush on his sister in first grade? Put both of them down. Then put a number next to each of their names. That should get you to $20,000 or more as your first tier of fundraising, about a month or more of daily phone calling. It may seem like the hardest thing you've ever done, especially with people who have never donated to a campaign. But it's the "easy money." Colby sits you down and maps out who you call, in what order, and what you say to them. He plans the entire fundraising campaign – the goal, the amount expected per month, the dollars to be raised for each hour of call time, each solicitation letter, each fundraising event. His office prints the three different letters to those you called – sorry, I missed you, thanks for the conversation, thanks for the pledge. Unless people give you a flat no, you call them at least three times. If they give less than the maximum, you call them again later in the campaign. He also tracks whether people made good on a pledge; if not, another letter. Throughout the campaign, Colby stayed in constant touch with Wyble and my campaign managers, Kenneth Hanks and Ellen Smith, a rising star in Democratic Party circles. Each week, he'd revisit the plan, chart the effectiveness of calls, and make adjustments as needed. If you're having a marvelous run with lawyers known by your brother, you'd stay on that list. As people started to notice our monthly donor reports, I gave an interview where I joked that fundraising was easy – just make thousands of calls and money rolls in. That irritated Colby because it completely undervalued his system. Of course, the essential ingredient is the candidate's willingness to work and his or her effectiveness when making the pitch. But Colby brought an invaluable dimension to the effort. He saw the entire universe of donors and how to approach them. For example, if you want to raise money from environmentalists, you start by meeting with Jill; if you impress her, she'll tell everybody to give you money. Or Joe is annoyed with your opponent, so call him. Ruth is highly respected in the Asian-American community. Call Anne, but after you're raised $30,000 or she won't take you seriously. Call Bob because he just gives to anybody who calls. Colby operates from a belief that giving money to candidates is as natural as breathing – so yes, call that eye doctor you saw for an hour two years ago. He should give. And what about his wife? She needs to know her husband's on board! Call her, too. He scoffed at my insistence that it was rude to call people during the dinner hour or call people who would never dream of donating to any politician. That guy's unemployed? Ask for something. No excuses! I did and got $5. As a journalist observing politics, I always regarded fundraising as the colorful but slightly sleazy side of politics. Wrong. It's more like sanding the side of a battle ship with a toothbrush – tedious hard work. Most people just want your general views on issues. Only once did a potential donor ask for something I considered improper, a pledge on how I would vote on a re-zone. Colby had no problem with my refusal to make that pledge. As Colby tutored me, we went back and forth on the relevant movie metaphor. Was he Yoda and I Luke Skywalker? Colby preferred to think of himself as Morpheus mentoring Neo in The Matrix, a better metaphor since he knew secret codes to donors' wallets, detected threats, and mapped my path through invisible terrain. He drew on relationships that went throughout Seattle politics. It drove me crazy that Colby regularly saw Drago's political consultant from a different race. He swore he didn't share confidential information about clients, but I pestered him for back channel reports. Let's make some calls, he'd reply. If running for office is a crazy decision, the actual running makes you crazier. You lose sleep, strain personal relationships, agree to give 60 seconds to complex issues ("how can the city solve the housing crisis?"), subject yourself to judgments by people who are not always pleasant ("you smell of Greg Nickels," said one Democratic party activist) and, worse, sometimes act like a jackass. Colby was my rock. When he walked into my house, ducking his head under the doorway, bellowing "Show me the money!" he knew how to get me to work. Two days after my dad died in February 2005, the calls resumed. I was glad for the distraction from grief, but I had no script for questions from old friends: I haven't seen your dad for a while. How's he doing? During those many months, Colby and I did everything we could to keep up our spirits, telling jokes and speculating that the other side would go nuts over our success. Borrowing an idea from Dave Ross, I kept a brass school bell on the table. If I got a $100 pledge, I tapped the bell lightly. For $650, I shook it hard. For a couple's maximum donation of $1,300 I danced around the kitchen, banging the bell, which was almost as loud as Colby's laughter. But that ended quickly. "Back to work. Where's my money?" he'd yell, annoucing the next number for me to call. What will be the result – $50, $250? His eyes locked on me. His fingers hovered over the keyboard, ready for the number. During call time, there was no rest, not even for a bathroom break. He sneered at the only meal I had time for – a fold-over peanut butter sandwich – then wanted his own. Get back on the phones, he ordered. He got annoyed if I misheard the numbers he announced in rapid order, but who wouldn't after three hours of calling? Once to tease me, he carefully called out my own number and I dialed it, like a doofus. He jumped up, laughing, his enormous frame straining the chair till it made cracking sounds and nearly broke. After the campaign was over, I reinforced the chair with glue and screws and invited him back for dinner.

O. Casey Corr is a Seattle writer who has worked for The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He now is employed at Seattle University as director of strategic communications. You can e-mail him at casey.corr@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, May 17, 9:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Publicly Funded Campaigns: Campaign fundraising is choking our democracy to death. What you neglect to mention is that an elected official has to keep raising money ad nauseum in order to win the next time. While a donor may not express their quid pro quo, is it possible for an elected official not to feel influenced? Perhaps, but with the escalating costs of campaigns the moral risk increases too. With publicly funded campaigns, a candidate can be freed from constantly dialing for dollars and the appearance of impropriety. The cash of the big donor will no longer drown out the voice of the average constituent. Go to www.washclean.org and learn how to level the playing field for all candidates and make the most important political change our state has ever seen.

Posted Thu, May 17, 10:37 a.m. Inappropriate

Democracy, not Dollars!: For those who make their living from political campaigns (BIG Media, professional campaign fundraisers, lobbyists), this type of emphasis on raising money might be fine. However, it isn't fine for democracy. Several states, counties, and municipalities have switched to publicly-funded campaigns ("Clean Campaigns") and they LOVE it. The candidates can devote their time and energies to raising awareness instead of campaign donations. And then there's the whole HUGE issue of the advantages of donors over other constituents who may not have much to donate financially. The entire business of campaign fundraising has become corrupt and our government along with it.

Get money out of campaigns and let's get on with cleaning up our government.

Posted Thu, May 17, 2:53 p.m. Inappropriate

Money and Public Service: At least one candidate among the the current crop running for Seattle City Council will likely raise $300,000 this year, eclipsing the $250,000 or so raised during the last council races. At the local level, what does that amount of money buy for us? Does it buy us the best possible candidates and office holders? Sometimes. It always guarantees candidates, and then office holders, who are pros at . . . TA DA . . . raising money!

I'm sure many capable, innovative, thoughtful individuals who could deliver real public service to the community CANNOT run for office and CANNOT contribute to the commonweal. This is because they don't have the most fundamental skill required today - an ability to tap into obscene amounts of money.

This has to change! Ask candidates for office where they stand on public financing of campaigns. Tell them you expect them to support public financing of campaigns and let them know you will hold them to it should then win office.

Posted Thu, May 17, 2:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Correction: You state that Sally's fundraiser, Linda Mitchell, is with the Connections Group. Linda is chair of the National Women's Political Caucus of WA (www.wpcnet.org) and works primarily with women candidates. Her company is the Funding Connection.

update

Posted Thu, May 17, 3:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Money isn't everything, but...: Great piece, Casey. Most revealing to those who can't understand why so few City Council races are well contested.

Candidates don't campaign here: They use fundraising as an electoral nuclear deterrent - discouraging others from getting into the race. Real democracy in action.

However, as you noted, money's not everything (as you experienced). Raising money is one thing, how it's spent campaigning is another.

Colby, a fundraiser, did his job well. But money only puts a candidate on a somewhat level playing field. Using it well and winning is an entirely 'nother matter. There are plenty of well known consultants in this town who are good at taking fat, contributor supplied paychecks - and losing, or otherwise padding their dismal records working for unopposed or poorly challenged Council candidates.

Regardless, the question is still begged: Why is it so hard to run for Council here, and so much money needed to do so?.

One critical factor: Our increasingly corrupt "at large" system of electing Council Members city wide; requiring vast sums of money that incumbents and the well connected can raise while discouraging quality challengers lacking said advantages.

At Large creates artificially high barriers to entry into Seattle politics, and it's only getting worse.

It makes for Councils populated by well meaning incumbents who otherwise feel far too safe, unaccountable, disconnected from public sentiment; often becoming increasingly arrogant, possessing a growing sense of entitlement and lacking diversity in the most critical of areas: Ideas and vigorous, public debate.

District or mixed district/at large systems with limited, defined geography and population reduce money needed to run: Candidates can doorbell entire districts, use fewer, expensive mailings, rely more on volunteers, less on consultants, make better use of campaign time, all reducing dependence on money, while potentially increasing the number and diversity of candidates.

An environment far more friendly to true "grassroots" campaigning and democracy. One that might inject some civic interest and vitality into listless Seattle politics. But that's what incumbents, special interests and self appointed "urban visionaries" fear isn't it: An active, engaged, questioning and - gasp - disagreeable electorate.

Such an inconvenient impediment on the path to the City of Light.

No wonder virtually every Council Member, save Licata, opposed the ‘03 District initiative, along with most of the Seattle political consulting industry. Districts often cuts into fundraiser's and consultant's incomes.

But then again, the last two district initiatives raised over 100K - and lost. They ran some of the worst initiative campaigns in recent city history (with, of course, professional help), lacking quality communication with voters.

A good idea - like a good candidate - can still lose if campaigned badly.

A well run, adequately funded Seattle initiative for 6 districts and 3 at large seats - the most common form of City Government - would likely satisfy most and pass by a large margin, bringing significant, positive changes to our political landscape.

Not so positive, perhaps, for incumbents, and the bank accounts of fundraisers, consultants and the rest of the city professional political industry. However, I wouldn't fret for them too much, I think they'll survive.

The question is, can representative democracy in Seattle survive without such, or similar, changes? Casey's experience does not auger well for Seattle's civic future.

One wonders if our current Council would be so enlightened as to put such an initiative up for a vote?

Posted Thu, May 17, 3:37 p.m. Inappropriate

More about Linda Mitchell: To learn more about Linda Mitchell, you can visit the Connections Group's web site. The Connections Group and Funding Connections are "aligned and share spaces."

--Casey

Posted Thu, May 17, 4 p.m. Inappropriate

Raising Funds, Raising Hell, and Raising Moral Standards for Fund Raising: Colby appears to be good at the fund-raising game, yet, the allocation of the candidate's time in dealing with donors is corrupting. That allocation makes grubbing for dollars more important that winning votes or thinking through issues, since money is seen as a means to an end. The amount of dollars matters, so pandering to wealthy donors is built into the system. Calling rich donors will always be a higher priority (and more frequent priority) than calling lesser donors or cold-calling the poor. Colby must of necessity make sure that you follow a script that meets your fund-raising goals, not your policy goals. The interests of the rich will be discussed more often, and your arguments and positions must be skewed to address their concerns more often. That's the system. I realize you didn't create it, and Colby didn't create it, but it's inherently corrupting of donors and candidates who play the game. Democracy is more available to the highest bidding donors; some votes and views count more than others.

The headline calls Colby "the most important person in Seattle politics," which suggests that the raising of money and the social structure of fundraising donors is more important than competence, morality, or issues -- more important than anything. Money is the stored ability to command resources. As such, it can be used to wield worldly power. There are many other powers in the world over which money has little or no claim. Money can buy easy name recognition, and money can amplify reputation, but it can't buy character. Money can help spread the word about good policy and about sound positions on issues, but any candidate who wins--yet doesn't understand good policy and why his or her positions are sound--isn't of much value.

The candidate's list of high contributing donors may be those who can best help the candidate win, but the instrumentality of vision here is blank. Without vision the people perish; with money anything can happen. Not a good combination.

Both democracy and its fundraising laws must take into consideration human nature and the laws of large numbers, i.e., populations and statistics. Like epidemiology or calculation of odds in casinos, or actuarial calculations for insurance companies, the numbers--within certain ranges--don't lie. Unfortunately, the degree to which those numbers (in this case fundraising) are divorced from rational thought, true representation of a broad constituency, and competence in office, then the lower the quality of government and democracy, and the less the public benefits.

Little of what Colby did for you as a candidate would differ from what he'd do for Mickey Mouse, George Bush, or Mother Teresa. The fundraising process has a moral component to it only in terms of public disclosure and avoidance of hidden bribes and graft and quid pro quos for donors. Unfortunately, blatant public quid pro quos exist from lobbies across the board: support this position and we'll support you; rub my back and we'll rub yours. The fact that these are public makes them no less corrupting.

Mediating the interests of a citizenry through appeal to a range of aggregating special interest groups is not government of the people by the people and for the people. Instead it's indirect government of citizens, by politicians, for mediating special interest groups. It's a difference in kind. It's like having your arms, legs, and internal organs vote to make decisions, instead of thinking. To my mind, it's why government is so ineffective and inefficient -- the parts of government and the candidates care mainly about themselves, but the concern for all citizens is skewed through fundraising towards the rich and special interests, the fat and whine of the body politic. Maybe Colby can help you raise money to run to do something about this hypochondriac obesity epidemic.
Stuka

Posted Thu, May 17, 5:40 p.m. Inappropriate

More about Linda Mitchell, Part 2: Linda called me today to say she's an independent fundraiser and the web site copy is old.--casey

Posted Thu, May 17, 7:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Underwood's share of the pie is????: Colby has 'raised' $42 million in 5 years for candidates and causes. What is his percentage/flat rate/contingency/retainer/take/cut/piece of the action?? Does he run a direct mail operation and/or media buy?? Specific dollar amounts would be very helpful.

animalal

Posted Thu, May 17, 7:28 p.m. Inappropriate

If at first you can't succeed...slop at the public trough: Public funding of any campaign for elected office or ballot measure absolutely violates my rights under the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution since it deprives me of my free speech and free association rights because I will be made to financially support candidates or ballot measures that I do not in fact support.

Those who claim public funding enhances democracy don't understand democracy. Your candidate or POV isn't entitled to support simply because it's yours. If you want support, go out and get it! Maybe the reason you can't is because people - those beings whom democracy is about - exercise their free speech and free association rights by keeping their pocket books closed and their door shut to you. Ever thought about that?

A better plan? Unlimited contributions but the amounts and the names and addresses of donors must immediately be reported and posted on the Internet absolutely without exception. No contributions by any entities other than human beings who are citizens of the United States. Union, corporate, and other PAC's, soft money, hard money, McCain - Feingold, §527 issue advocacy exemptions, and all the rest will be consigned to the ash heap of history.

Frankly, it's not at all that there's too much money in campaigns; there's not enough! A quick search told me that candidates for the presidency in 2000 spent $607 million in that election, while candidates for Congress spent just over $1 billion. Compare that to the advertising budget for the period January - September 2004 for one single American company, Procter & Gamble, which was just over $2.1 billion.

One American company spends way more to sell us toothpaste, toilet paper, and very bad coffee than is spent to campaign for the most powerful office on the planet. Too much money? How about nowhere near enough!

If you want an informed electorate, then you have to get the message to them. The American people are smart enough to figure things out, so trust them, not some new unelected government bureaucracy.

BTW, this past November with nearly a 75% "NO" vote, California voters dumped Proposition 89, which would have provided public financing of political campaigns and strict contribution limits.

Public funding of campaigns? Sounds like public funding of losing ideas and boring, fringe candidates. That's not democracy at all!

The Piper

Posted Thu, May 17, 11:41 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: If at first you can't succeed...slop at the public trough: Piper,

I generally agree that government financing is bad. And I'm in agreement that the competition of free ideas in the marketplace will lead people to contribute to the candidates and causes that support the ideas that are best. And I agree with you that MORE money could lead to a better educated electorate. However, when media are concentrated in large corporations and wealth is concentrated in the five percent of highest incomes in the country, the so-called "free" marketplace is hardly fair and free. People depend vitally on media for the characterization of candidates, their parties and policy positions. Insofar as media as a whole can smear any individual, party or policy position with Big Lie propoganda or distortion through repetition and saturation of message, then those with the ability to define, repeat, and saturate media messages are in control of our political system, regardless of what those messages might be.

Some examples: in Rwanda radio was responsible for demonizing Tutsis as "cockroaches" and orchestrating a massive genocide by machete. In the U.S., the Bush administration through Fox and the rest of the media was responsible for demonizing Iraq and "Islamo-Fascists," thus we went and continue to fight a media-created war. (Note tha the media LOVES war. Good ratings.) This sort of mob reaction to polarizing images threatens democracy and rational thought. It is unfortunately the way large groups of people behave.

Finally, remember that when winners win in the marketplace, they reap the rewards and try to consolidate their positions. Left unchecked, this leads to natural monopoly. The Bush Administration was adept at doing this politically, but inept at administering its political policies. Had it more competency, it's not too farfetched to imagine a Republican America with all the hallmarks of your average totalitarian state.

But back to fund-raising. Preventing the development of a monoculture in political thought is my primary fear since IMHO it breeds the seeds of totalitarianism. Further, I am suspicious of how difficult it is for the average guy or gal to effectively run for office. Note that 8-, 9-, and 10-digiit millionaires make up nearly all our major presidential hopefuls: from Kerry in the 2004 election (Heinz57 $165-$235M) to the Clintons today ($50M with $40M from Bill in speaker fees last year) to unannounced Bloomberg ($5.5B) to Romney ($190 to $250M) tp Edwards ($12.8 - $60M), to Guliani ($30M) and even McCain ($20-$30M). Who gives voice and funds the concerns of the little guy?

I support your notion of eliminating contributions by PACs and Unions and other special interests. This is consistent with wanting individual citizens voting, and not special interests voting. Because of my fears of incipient totalitarianism, Nazi-like propoganda, and smear campaigns on individuals, I believe in allowing many voices on a more-or-less level playing field where everyone has some voice. I could see some place for minimum-level public financing so that multiple voices can be heard. Individual voices should always be amplifiable through fund-raising, but limits must be placed at the top end to avoid the buying of elections by price-indifferent billionaires and special interests.

If I ran the circus, we'd also include limitations on:
- carpet-bombing ads that drown out all other voices and makes competition of ideas nearly impossible, and
- ad hominem attacks and smears on candidates (yeah, I'm not for dirty, hateful free speech).

The role of government is to set up and enforce the rules of a competitive marketplace of ideas and candidates. When the system is gamed, and that marketplace is comprised, then market failure results, and special interests rule the day.
Stuka

Posted Fri, May 18, 10:04 a.m. Inappropriate

Best piece yet on Crosscut: Great job, Casey. This is an excellent primer on election fundraising, plus a good feature on Colby Underwood, a very powerful player in Seattle politics. Aside from the expected whines about public financing schemes, someone needs to address the major question it raises. Why haven't any of our wanna-be groups (the neighborhood types, lefties, Repubs, greenies, Strangerites, et al) ever tried to compete in the fundraising department? Our donation limits are quite low ($700 per person) and most everyone who can attend a meeting in this rich city can write a check for $50-$100 without feeling it. When the neighborhoods at least tried in the late 90s with the Civic Foundation, they managed to help Charlie Chong and Nick Licata on to the Council. If nobody cares enough to try hard, why do they deserve to elect people?

J.R.

Posted Fri, May 18, 10:20 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Best piece yet on Crosscut: "If nobody cares enough to try hard, why do they deserve to elect people?"

Amen, brother...amen!

The Piper

Posted Fri, May 18, 1:19 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: If at first you can't succeed...slop at the public trough: I believe Scott Piper doesn't understand democracy.

In a democracy, citizens are often compelled to do or finance activities they disagree with. A minuscule portion of my taxes go to pay George W. Bush's salary. I consider W an unmitigated disaster, and would like to cut him off without a cent. But he has been elected by an apparent majority (even though it did take some election fiddling to do it), so I don't get my way.

Election of government officials is arguably the most fundamental activity of a democracy. If it isn't done right, you don't have a democracy. So a fair amount of public funds are expended to facilitate elections. Mr. or Ms. Piper already spends about $10 per year to support the election department in his/her county. He/she also spent about $40 in the 2006-7 biennium to support the office of the Washington Secretary of State, and $1.25 to fund the Public Disclosure Commission (amounts are per-registered-voter expenditures), both of which agencies are deeply or wholly involved in elections. These expenditures probably result in the election of many candidates Mr./Ms Piper disapproves of, but that's the way democracy works.

Public financing of election campaigns would be just one more government activity to facilitate and insure election of candidates who will fairly and reasonably act in the public interest, and eliminate the "money test" for public office. Public financing has been tested (in State supreme courts) and found to pass constitutional muster, just as reasonable campaign contribution limits has. If we are to end "government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich", we need to eliminate private fund-raising as the sole test of political strength. A number of states and some municipalities have some form of public campaign financing, and citizens of those entities appear quite satisfied with the way the system works. Maine, the pioneer, has had public campaigns for more than 10 years. New Mexico, which has had limited public campaign financing for several years, just expanded it's system to include judicial offices.
larabee

Posted Fri, May 18, 2:46 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: If at first you can't succeed...slop at the public trough: Hey Stuka!

Uhm...I'm a Republican, I'm a fan of Fox News, I believe there are Islamo-fascists, and I believe the Iraq War to be a just cause. Call me crazy...but call me often!

But I don't believe I have anything to fear from media consolidation or the fact that generally guys with money run for high office. I'm an absolute believer in the self correcting nature of marketplaces. I think it odd to complain about media consolidation when every guy in a bath robe with a broadband connection now fancies himself a journalist who can spew his opinion in a comments section of something like Crosscut.com.

Oops! I think I just described myself.

The "little guy," IMHO has more voice now days than ever before. I mean, think back 50, 100, or especially 200-years ago. Not to mention more universal sufferage, a better educated electorate, more convenient election processes (not a plus, IMHO), and more damn fair campaign laws than you can shake a stick at, we have near instant and real-time access to information, the ability to generate conversation and severe heat in a matter of minutes, let alone hours with a few clicks of a keyboard, and an unprecedented organizational capability and power unheard of until the Internet.

I mean when a total Beelzebub like Howard Dean can do what he did in 2004, then media consolidation and pre-existing wealth haven't got a chance. And if inherited wealth were the end all and be all of politics, then Teddy Kennedy would've been president instead of just another Senator. Ditto Jay Rockefeller.

Nor am I at all in favor of censoring or otherwise having the govnerment moniter campaign literature. The people are, in the long run, smart enough to figure out what's what. Lincoln was right about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time.

As much as I hate to say it, the 2006 election results prove my point. Despite a consolidated media and inherited wealth, the people spoke loud and clear and a lot of office holders, including some damn good ones, lost their jobs.

If you think "dirty, hateful free speech" is bad now, go read what they said about John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800, or Lincoln in 1860 and 1864. Let's not forget some of the things said about FDR, JFK, and Ronaldus Magnus Reaganus. For that matter, how about all of them save George Washington?

Now, I'm no fan of dirty campaign tactics. In fact, a good friend of mine was thoroughly disparaged by them during this last election and screwed out of a state senate seat in part because of them. But over the long haul, voters do self-correct.

Politics is a messy business. Remember, it was Mussolini who made the trains run on time, and Hitler simply did away with electoral politics while voting in Communist countries is always simple and predictable: 100% in favor of the "people's choice." You don't want to go to any of these extremes, do you?

What a lot of people define as "special interests," I define as one or more affinity group to which I belong. I'm a man, a husband, a father, a small business owner, a musician, a gun owner, a tax payer, etc. Each of these charactersitics align me with one or another so-called "special interest." To me, special interests are simply like minded people working together for a common good...as long as it's my common good ;o}

Whenever government enters a marketplace, be it economic or one of ideas, it screws it up. Government is management by very blunt object. I'd just as soon trust the people to make decisions, live their lives, and ultimately go their own way.

The Piper

Posted Fri, May 18, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: If at first you can't succeed...slop at the public trough: See my reply to Stuka...

Yes, citizens are often compelled to underwrite activities anathema to them. The activities of just about anyone whose last name ends in hyphen "D" I put into that category. Two can play at that game.

And public expenditure in the administration of elections is vastly different than public financing of the campaigns of candidates or even issues.

I draw the line at being forced to give my money to private citizens who happen to be candidates for office. Why should I be forced to contribute to you or you to me? I mean we wouldn't vote for each other on a bet, right? So why must I make it easy for you to run for office. If you want to run, go out and hustle the bucks like any other candidate.

All you public-financing types have so little faith in the inherent wisdom of the American people. Frankly, I think you're just steamed because so many of you support fringe candidates who couldn't come in third in a two man race.

My idea of the purpose of government is to protect and enhance freedom and liberty for the individual citizen, NOT get your guy elected to office. Nor is it to get my guy elected, either! Get out and hustle!

The politics of Colby Underwood and even Casey Corr scare the living bejeebers out of me! Country's gone to the devil when guys like that can make decisions that have an effect upon public policy. Shudder! Grover Cleveland was about the last Democrat who might have been able to compete for my vote. Yet my hat is absolutely off to the young (my oldest son is 29) Mr. Underwood for his entrepreneurial hustle (have you noticed...I used this word a lot?) and spirit. And I appreciate Casey Corr's letting us tighty-righty's know about him so we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

This whole debate reminds me of the dirt done to Don James back in 1993. Remember Don? U of W Rose Bowl winning (multiple times) football coach? Don was so successful on the field that the only way his opponents could beat him was to seek to destroy him off the field. A few anonymous phone calls, some highly technical interpretations of arcane NCAA rules, and Bingo! Don's out! Not good enough to compete against him mano y mano, Don's opponents clipped him with the ultimate in unnecessary and unsportsmanlike roughness. Talk about a Grade A chisel That's how I saw it then, and that's how I see these sneaky public financing efforts now.

When you're not smart enough, can't organize well enough, field candidates attractive enough, schmooze donors cleverly enough, won't work hard enough, you can't win elections. Couple that with the fact that so many who advocate public financing hold policy positions that the vast majority of the vox populi - probably even flat earth lefties like Underwood and Corr - consider less attractive than the swerlling dervish hallucinations of Lynden LaRouche, then what do you expect?

Frankly, my dear...you get what I refuse to pay for.

The Piper

Posted Mon, May 21, 9:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Clean Elections Is Good for the Market Place of Ideas: Democracy is not about hustling for dollars. Our current way of funding campaigns can be amended to allow for another option. Clean Elections will do just that. It doesn't stop anyone from running with their own megamillions or using others' megamillions. It won't do away with lobbyists, big donors, or PACs or change contribution limits. All those things can go on just as they are now. The difference is that Clean Elections will allow qualified candidates to run an effective competitive campaign based on campaigning door to door and collecting small donations from supporters in their district. Candidates will be free from even the appearance of being influenced by special interests and can put their community's best interests first. Once in office, an official elected with Clean Elections funds will be free from continuing to fundraise while in office and do the community's work instead. To be re-elected, they'll need to be accountable to the folks who elected them in the first place. Clean Elections allows for a "free market" of ideas in a campaign for office. We would all truly benefit from that. Clean Elections gives us another choice in this overly-hyped commercialized market place of campaigns. Make campaigns about voters not big donors. We deserve the best candidates that democracy can offer not the best that Madison Avenue can sell us.

Posted Mon, May 21, 11:35 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Clean Elections Is Good for the Market Place of Ideas: Yes, democracy is about hustling for dollars. And it's about hustling for votes and hustling to get your ideas and candidates in front of the public. It's hustling harder than the other guy hustles. It's all about hustling.

Efficient marketplaces operate best when government stays out. Clean Elections and its underlying premise is government interference in a maketplace to subsidize that which the market place deems inefficient and unimportant.

The people are smart enought to figure out who's improperly influenced and who's not. I don't need Clean Elections devotees to tell me which is which.

Buckley vs. Vallejo precludes mandatory public financing for exactly the reasons I mentioned when this converstion started: it's a violation of the First and 14th Amendments.

It's interesting that the party with the largest number of big donors and the party with the largest number of mom and pop $25, 50, and 100 dollar donors are the Democratic and Republican Parties respectively.

Clean Elections operates under the fundamental premise that either American people aren't smart enough to figure things out and vote accordingly or that the only way that Clean Elections type candidates can get on the ballot is through a public subsidy since they're incapable of competing effectively in the overall marketplace of ideas. Either way, it's not democracy; it's an exercise in elitism.

The Piper

Posted Mon, May 21, noon Inappropriate

RE: Clean Elections Is Good for the Market Place of Ideas: First of all Clean Elections is not a mandatory program. Never has been, never will because of Buckley v. Vallejo. This legal precedent allows for publicly funded candidates because the candidate themselves choose to not accept private monies. Clean Elections supporters believe the voters are extremely smart and realize when their voices are being drown out by big money. Clean Elections candidate-types are both Republican, Democrat and Green as borne out in both Arizona and Maine. There is nothing fringe about these candidates and many incumbents embrace Clean Elections because their constituents do. When 80% of the Maine Legislature and 9 out of 11 statewide offices in Arizona run on Clean Elections and win, there is nothing elitist about that. Hustle to get my vote, hustle your ideas and candidates, please. I suppose if you think capitalism is equivalent to democracy then you will choose to continue to hustle for money. You will continue to have that option. But I will be looking at candidates who choose to run as Clean Elections candidates because I know their vote isn't being bought by the highest bidder.

Posted Mon, May 21, 4:57 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Clean Elections Is Good for the Market Place of Ideas: I know Clean Elections isn't, nor can it be, a mandatory program, yet too many of those who propse publicly funded campaigns position themselves in that direction. When government gets to decide who runs for office by deciding which candidates it will fund, then even Clean Elections supporters would have to acknowledge that democracy is dead.

I dislike subsidies of any type because they're simply the government interfering in the market place. Whether it's economic or the marketplace of ideas, let only those who participate make the decisions. Vote with their feet, vote with their money, vote with their vote...but no interference from government.

I do think capitalism and democracy are inextricably intertwined. Both depend upon freedom, liberty, the rule of law and respect for legal institutions, and both operate best when government exercises the least amount of interference.

I also believe that candidates who show me an ability to hustle in every category imaginable will be the ones who hustle the most to get the job done once elected.

As an aside...I think the real scandel is in how much public money is spent on pork barrel projects, earmarks, putting relatives on the payroll, and things like that. I've got an idea for a constitutional amendment - won't fly, of course, because it's mine - that would prohibit any member of the House of Representatives or United States Senate from voting on any measure of any kind the result of which would be the expenditure of public funds in that member or Senator's home state. Think on it...we send those people back to Washington, D.C. to conduct the NATION's business, not their own. Let them vote in the NATIONAL interest, not parochial interests. Thoughts???

It's what's spent once in office that's a scandal, not what's spent to get in office.

That so many candidates are willing to engage in what I perceive as a sort-of electoral restraint of trade worries me. But it also fascinates me that when push comes to shove in a campaign and the choice is between spending limits imposed by the receipt of public funds and going all out to spend and accept whatever donations can be had in order to win, then it seems the latter wins out over the former every time. Candidates pay lip service, but in the clinch the ony important thing is getting elected.

Still...I think it's not a matter of too much money, it's a matter of no where near enough! More dollars need to flow into campaigns in order to reach more voters and reach them more often. Contribution limits and spending limits are, in the end, education limits.

Nobody wants a 21st-Century version of Plunkett of Tammany Hall ("I seen my opportunities, and I took 'em!"), but having the government serve as a conduit or middle-man just strikes me as...silly. I think the whole "sold to the highest bidder" argument is more rumored than reality. Sure, people can be influenced by donations; they can be influenced by large crowds, too. Should we ban mass demonstrations? They can be influenced by powerful speakers, so should we ban lofty prose?

I'd just as soon require full and immediate public disclosure of who gave how much to whom, limit contributions to individual citizens of the United States only, and leave it at that. Let the people decide whether there's any undue influence.

The Piper

Posted Tue, May 22, 5:34 p.m. Inappropriate

Public Campaign Financing Passes Constitutional "Sniff Test": It was amazing in Olympia to hear some of the things the Rs said in opposition to public campaign financing. Some said "the public wouldn't want to see tax money spent this way," as if taxpayers couldn't distinguish between funding going for campaign funding and funds going into their own pockets! Perhaps the problem lies within themselves.

Others, as in this blog, said they wouldn't want their tax money going to someone or something they don't support. I would be the first person to withdraw my tax money from supporting the war. However, we don't get to pick and choose. Having fair elections, and a level playing field, is a public good well worth a few dollars apiece. Most of us recognize that we came within a hair of having our State Supreme Court auctioned to the highest bidder and we don't want to repeat it.

Public campaign financing has been the law of the land in Maine and Arizone for the past four legislative campaign cycles. In addition, judges in North Carolina have used public campaign financing for several election cycles. It has passed the constitutional "sniff test." Only if it limited others' choices would it be unconstitutional.

PCF is an excellent and rational use of our tax money. Candidates choose to go this route. They still have to collect "seed money" from friends and family to get started, and then small donations from a large enough number of voters to discourage Mike the Mover from running just to get his name on the ballot. If there is no opponent, the amount of public money could be relatively small. If there is a privately financed opponent, the publicly financed candidate is eligible for "rescue funds" that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the case of a statewide race. It is enough to run a credible campaign.

The value to the voters? No one is looking over the shoulder of the councilmember or legislator when it comes time to vote, except the voters themselves. Voters save money by not over-funding some programs, and not providing unnecessary and unmerited tax breaks to others. For an annual cost of under $6 a year per person for statewide races, I think it's a bargain.

Carr's article graphically illustrates the pressure that would be lifted from candidates, likely increasing the field of good candidates who might run, and changing the quality of the campaign from raising money every day, to listening to voters every day. Ah, the freedom to be able to turn down meetings with money interests and lobbyists!!

At the 46th LD candidate forum, with 21 candidates for Port of Seattle, School Board and City Council, every single candidate said they supported public campaign financing. I hope that this question will be asked of every candidate at every candidate forum.

Posted Wed, May 23, 1:45 a.m. Inappropriate

RE: Public Campaign Financing Passes Constitutional "Sniff Test": Of course candidates in the 46th District support PCF! It's one of the bluest districts in the state! When was the last time a non-Democrat got elected, or even came close to getting elected, in that district?

Lobbyists aren't per se bad. And legislators who never encounter them aren't per se good; they're ignorant! Lobbyists represent the POV of a constituency, and they share that with a legislator. It's up to the legislator to make an informed judgement, not an ignorant one.

Again...I bang this dream repeatedly...we need substantially more money in campaigns, not less. More information, more TV, more forums, debates, etc. They cost money.

In un-opposed races, directing minimal sums sounds very dangerous to me. Seems like an invitation to slide someone in to an office without the public getting to know the candidate or what the candidate stands for.

There's a world of difference between tax money paying for policies with which we disagree and paying for campaign financing. In the first instance, we have elections to decide who's to develop and implement those policies, and the winners of the elections get to make the decisions. Majority rules.

But giving my money to someone running for an office who articulates a POV that I find abhorent is simply appalling! That's not democracy at all, that's a violation of my free speech and free association rights. No thank you!

I still contend that most who favor public financing do so because they aren't willing to either get out there and hustle or because their positions on issues isn't strong enough to attract support on their own so they have to get a government subsidy.

If you can't play the game and win on your own merits, you don't deserve to be on the field. What's next? Public financing for a new Sonics arena because there isn't enough private support??? Oh, wait! That got trashed in the last legislature...and wisely so!

The people are absolutely smart enough and capable enough to decide who's improperly influenced and who's not. Besides, my definition of imporper influence entails anyone who receives government funding because that makes them too invested in the system of large and intrusive government, which stifles liberty and freedom rather than enhancing them.

Washington, Lincoln, and FDR were elected without PFC. Isn't that good enough?

The Piper

Posted Wed, May 23, 2:48 p.m. Inappropriate

The Piper: Good Ideas, Bad Conclusion: I find much to agree with in "The Piper's" recent submission. He has expressed appropriate concern for freedom of speech and association as well as an appreciation of the role that individuals reaching for their wallets (or not doing so) plays in screening nutty, insincere and/or otherwise unappealing candidates from our electoral process. He proposes a "better plan," which would allow unlimited contributions to electoral campaigns but require full and immediate internet posting of the amounts given and the names and addresses of the contributors. He would also prohibit anyone but "human beings" from participating in the funding of election campaigns: no unions, corporations, PAC's, etc. What a great idea! Good work, Piper! I would go him one further and require that the list of contributors be followed by the phrase, "and that's who I'll serve." You see, by his own proposal, Piper acknowledges a connection between campaign donations and subsequent behavior of elected officials. He very wisely believes that it is important for voters to know who is providing the money for campaign expenses. That shows he's thinking. Wouldn't it be nice to have a candidate who could list as his contributors "The People of the United States of America" and follow that with the phrase, "and that's who I'll serve." The careful crafting of public campaign laws to include a phase in which the potential candidates must solicit small contributions from a large number of "human beings" (no unions, corporations, PAC's etc.) shows that the proponents of public funding share precisely The Piper's concerns. Candidates must have organizational skills and be appealing to enough people to justify the outlay of public funds for their campaign. And I'm sure the Piper would agree that no individual's opinion in this matter should carry more weight than that of any other. It would be unfair to let a wealthy union or corporation carry a disproportionate authority. By the same logic, of course, it would be undemocratic to grant wealthy individuals a disproportionate influence on the choice of our elected officials. All of these concerns are directly addressed by proposed public finding laws.

Along with The Piper, I lament the fact that most Americans seem to care so little about their government that toothpaste, toilet paper, bad coffee and, not least of all, the latest American idol candidate, curry more financial interest than do the campaigns that determine the direction of our country. This is sad. Might it be because, at some level, we acknowledge that the candidates of both parties must sell their souls to third party "investors" that do not have the interest of the American People at heart? Perhaps a candidate funded "by the people" might have the opportunity to work "for the people." Given the status quo, it's worth a try. The one bit of good news in the foregoing sad observation is that, if a for profit corporation can justify spending more on ads for toilet paper than we collectively spend on election campaigns, the richest nation in the world can well afford to underwrite the cost of running for its elected offices.

As for The Piper's concerns about having to fund candidates with whom he disagrees, I sympathize but have to point out that, at any given moment in time, my government is doing many things with which I personally disagree. One of the seldom considered costs of freedom is that we must live with others with whom we disagree. Pay the bill, Piper, and let the votes of real, equally empowered human beings, not the dollars of well healed special interests or individuals, be the factor which determines the direction of our country. It is the current system, under which our candidates become indentured servants and the rich enjoy disproportionate representation that is "not democracy at all!"

Posted Wed, May 23, 5:59 p.m. Inappropriate

The Piper respects The Seagull!: Dear Seagull,

My response is in multiple postings because of Crosscut's 4K word limit, and because I write a lot.

Thank you for respectfully addressing the issues I raised.

We agree on much...I'll bet we agree that Jeff Weaver HAS TO GO! Unconditional release time! Let no public or private money - PCF, Clean Elections, Lobbyist filthy lucre, or the likes of the screw up at the Port of Seattle involving Mic Disnmore's severance package - be spent on that soon-to-be king of the ERA. Let justice prevail!

Still…there's always a "still" (ask any revenue agent)…I beg to differ with you as follows:

(1) Contributions follow candidates, not the other way around. Candidates stake out positions - points of view, philosophies, models of government, programs, policies, procedures - and like-minded people contribute to see them advanced.

People tend to vote the same way. Whether you vote hard "R," as I do (unless the candidate is a certain perennial, in which case I opt for the Libertarian), "D," Green, or whatever, you do so because you vote your beliefs and interests. Nothing wrong with that even if they're beliefs and interests with which I either disagree or consider wacky. That's your right as an American.

I'm a fan of British parliamentary systems where two very different parties vie for power. Party discipline is rigidly enforced, and wandering backbenchers are treated harshly. I like that: political S & M grounded in significantly different worldviews.

I'm suspicious both of candidates who take contributions from those who contribute to the opposition and contributors who give to each side. But…it's a free country, and I would evaluate that candidate accordingly.

(2) Your statement "Wouldn't it be nice to have a candidate who could list as his contributors ‘The People of the United States of America' and follow that with the phrase, ‘and that's who I'll serve…' doesn't make sense.

If a candidate running on a platform wins, wouldn't you expect that new officeholder to work to advance that platform? And wouldn't you expect only those who subscribe to that platform would or should contribute to that candidate? The concept of majority rules theorizes that when 50% plus one (or whoever gets the most in a plurality) vote for candidate A, then he or she is elected…not candidate B. Candidate A works to advance the agenda upon which he or she ran, even though the 50% less one who voted for candidate B howl like stuck pigs.

Candidate A, elected in opposition to candidate B, serves the people of the United States by working to advance the agenda upon which he or she is elected even though candidate B and associated supporters shake their fists in opposition decrying the destruction of the Republic.

Government isn't inherently non-partisan even when candidates run as non-partisan. Positions matter, beliefs matter, ideology matters, and I think it's wrong to be forced to contribute or support any candidate for office whose platform or agenda are tantamount to Das Kapital or Mein Kampf.

End Part !

Posted Wed, May 23, 6:02 p.m. Inappropriate

The Piper respects The Seagull - Part II: Part 2...

3) I do not agree, "no individual's opinion in this matter should carry more weight than that of any other." We're talking campaigning here, not the voting booth.

Liberty presumes the right to do with your property as you see fit. If that means you want to spend a kajillion dollars in support of candidate B, then knock yourself out; it's a free country! Buy ads, buy a newspaper, buy a TV station…it's your money; do whatever floats your boat!

But you can't presume that mere wealth equals victory. Were that the case, Ross Perot would be more than a political footnote.

And the opinion of someone I regard as a sound thinker will always weigh more heavily with me than that of a dolt. Antonin Scalia rocks; John Paul Stevens is totally past pull date.

Elections aren't about some amorphous sense of "fairness;" they're about winning more votes than the other guy. It's up to the people to decide what's fair, not the candidates.

What's unfair is bogus counting of ballots, letting legally unqualified people vote, duplicate ballots cast, ballot box stuffing, and the like. Want to spend public funds to increase public confidence in the system? Fix how votes are actually cast and counted, not how campaigns are financed.

(4) Democracy takes place in the voting booth, and that's where the mighty and the mean are equal: one man, one vote.

I don't believe office holders necessarily sell their souls for contributions; they twist and contort their souls because the tar baby nature of current law (McCain - Feingold, et al) is such that the more you swing, the stucker you get.

As Mr. Bumble said, "The law, sir, is a ass!"

Most large dollar contributors on the national scene favor Democratic candidates, while the lunch bucket contributors favor Republicans.

And lets look at the political landscape. Your theory and that of other PCF and Clean Election types presumes all ground should be level, and that's not true. Some states are blue, and some states are red.

Poster SaraJane3H opined about the virtues of the 46th District where she apparently lives and where a Republican couldn't come in third in a two-candidate race on a bet. Why should public funds then be used to support a Republican candidate? It's a waste of money, a poor allocation of resources, but so very typically government, which does that all the time.

As campaigns ebb and flow, so do dollars contributed and allocated. In close races, more money is spent. In the 46th, the Democrat running for anything simply has to put a hand lettered sign in the window, and that's all she wrote. This is part of letting the marketplace decide, and I like it!

End Part 2

Posted Wed, May 23, 6:02 p.m. Inappropriate

The Piper respects The Seagull - Part III: Part III

5) There's a difference between policies with which we disagree because we're in the minority on that issue and supporting a candidate who as far as I'm concerned seeks to rob me of my life, liberty and property.

We have elections to determine who gets to set and implement policy. If we don't like it, wait two or four years then vote the rascals out. Isn't that what happened this past November (pardon me as I choke on the memory)?

Candidates, on the other hand, are private citizens vying for public office. They're not entitled to dime one of public funds. Even office holders running for re-election must observe draconically rigid rules about not using public assets for political purposes.

If you ask me, the wall of separation of anything should be between candidates seeking office and office holder's activities themselves, not between church and state (a totally misunderstood notion, BTW).

The wealth of one or several can and often is counter-balanced by something. I'll use the WEA, an organization that I think is as politically corrupt as any since the beginning of time, as an example. Individual teachers aren't that wealthy, but the WEA collectively wields more power in this state than almost anyone. I offer as Exhibit A that awful bill Gov. Gregoire signed that further eviscerates the free speech rights of individual teachers all in the name of more dollars flowing into the coffers of their union.

The black vote, Latino vote, environmental vote, Moral Majority vote, gun owner vote, gay vote, straight vote, pro-viaduct vote, anti-viaduct vote…all these can and do counter dollars. The marketplace isn't just money; it's people and what they think and feel. If you pump $1 million dollars into the campaign of a Republican in the blue 46th, it would be money down a rat hole.

This whole issue is a tempest in a teapot, and one more example of governmental interference in our lives resulting in less freedom and less liberty.

Want to have better elections? I've said it already: fix the process by which votes are cast and counted; that's the real shame and scandal. Elections will never be "nice" but they can be efficient and honest. Can we agree on that?

America is about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. You're trying to "clean up" democracy, and that's impossible. Remember, democracy and sausage making…Leave campaigns alone to say or do whatever, and trust the people to sort the wheat from the chaff.

And - with respect - the level of orthodoxy and strict "equality" you seek reminds me of George Orwell's Animal Farm where all animals were equal until some decided certain animals had to be more equal than others.

Again…thank you for your thoughtful and respectful response…

The Piper

Posted Thu, May 24, 1:53 p.m. Inappropriate

RE: Clean Elections Is Good for the Market Place of Ideas: Your statement: I know Clean Elections isn't, nor can it be, a mandatory program, yet too many of those who propse publicly funded campaigns position themselves in that direction. When government gets to decide who runs for office by deciding which candidates it will fund, then even Clean Elections supporters would have to acknowledge that democracy is dead.

If you know it's not a mandatory program then why say it in the first place. Trying to label CE as something it isn't when you know better is dishonorable. I know of no serious Clean Elections supporter who positions it as a mandatory program. The only mandatory comment in this discussion group belongs to you -- clearly an opponent of CE.

Given that we have a representative form of government, it is the people that decide who qualifies to run. It's not some crazy idea. It's an idea whose time has come and is being practiced successfully and popularly in 7 states. There are over 40 states with organizations trying to implement Clean Elections.

People know there is undue influence in political donations. They need to know that there is a solution that works, is affordable, and is wildly popular in Arizona and Maine. That's where Washington Public Campaigns comes in. It's all about educating the public. A tall order when the opposition mischaracterizes it as you do.

Posted Fri, Dec 7, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

And you wonder why i don't vote anymore: Very nice piece. It's a great article and illustrates perfectly why I am so disheartened by the whole political process. Colby Underwood is a fundraiser but a better description is parasite. Go ahead call me Colby and ask me to donate. No ..No....No..No.. I don't vote any more and quite frankly I just don't give a crap!!!

hlongan

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