Reauthorize Clean Elections

CourierPostOnline — Monday, February 12, 2007


It would be disgraceful for lawmakers to end the pilot program before it had a chance to work.

State Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Lawrence, Mercer County, said last week the clean election program is on "life support."

That's pathetic.

Clean elections could really make a difference in New Jersey politics. Yet this program, which has worked in other states to wrest control of the election process from big money donors, is being left to wither away in New Jersey by a gang of lawmakers who seemingly have zero desire to wean themselves from their corrupting addiction to campaign dollars that come from professionals who work for the government. It's all a big club, complete with $500-a-plate campaign fundraising dinners that special interests flock to, and taking away the reliance on big donations would ruin the whole spoiled system. Apparently, there are weak-kneed lawmakers in Trenton who just don't want their party to end.

Some legislators will probably claim they tried it, but it failed in New Jersey. They won't tell you that our clean election program was a joke in comparison to how it's run elsewhere.

When clean elections were tried in two legislative districts in 2005, only one out of five sets of candidates qualified for public money because the number of individual donations candidates had to collect – 1,500 – was ridiculously high, and because donors couldn't even use their debit/credit cards to donate until there were just a few weeks left. It was a half-hearted attempt at trying something noble that New Jersey needs, if it is ever to have a state government people can trust.

So now, edging in on a year and a half since the last election, legislators finally are getting around to working on the program again.

And – surprise! – they're concerned they're running out of time. If that's what happens, it would truly be pathetic.

New Jerseyans deserve better.

Copyright 2007 Courier-Post

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