The Star-Ledger

Clean Elections

The Star-Ledger — Friday, September 21, 2007

Letter to the Editor

After days of covering New Jersey's latest corruption scandal, in which 11 politicians were snared, it's no wonder that you woke up on the wrong side of the bed ("Election dream world," Sept. 10 editorial). But bashing the clean elections pilot program, part of New Jersey's solution, is the wrong response.

Getting special-interest money out of politics can produce officials free to run for office and act without the constraints of those purse strings wielded by private donors and backroom party bosses. We need only look to Maine, where former Senate Majority Leader Chellie Pingree credits a clean elections law for the state's strong prescription drug legislation, or to Arizona, where Gov. Janet Napolitano, America's first clean elections governor, issued an executive order establishing low-cost prescription discounts. Conversely, New Jersey has balked at proposals to bulk-purchase prescriptions or negotiate prices with drug companies.

A clean elections law will not, by itself, eliminate all bad people from politics, just as tougher ethics reforms, while certainly needed, will not create a world free from corruption. But it is certainly better than the nightmare we've got now.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Newark

The writer is executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

Copyright 2007 The Star-Ledger

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