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To a large extent Gil and I agree on the issue of disclosure. As a former reporter, I like openness and I think there should be disclosure of all contributions and expenditures, regardless of source.
But what strikes me in Gil’s latest round are these words:
“Ultimately, it appears John agrees at some level that those that provide large sums of money (directly or otherwise) to candidates garner some influence. To me this means we should both limit the ability of individuals to directly contribute to some reasonable number and increase disclosure requirements all around.”
So what this is really all about is influence and the perception that somehow we should limit contributions because that limits influence.
Again I go back to the difference between those who work in the field and those who observe. Yes, contributors have influence. But they are not the only ones with influence nor are they necessarily the greatest influence.
The environmental movement rarely makes contributions. They have influence. So do community planning groups; so does the media; so does the Gay and Lesbian Center; the Boy Scouts; the Girl Scouts; The Chamber of Commerce; San Diego Imperial Counties Central Labor Council; etc etc etc.
Folks, it is called Democracy!!! Read de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. People form groups at the drop of a hat to influence government. Friends of Rose Canyon oppose the Regents Road bridge. UC Connection favors it. The examples are endless. Some give money; some don’t.
So why should we limit some people and not others. Someone will say — “But money speaks louder.” I would say — “There is a tradeoff between feet and money.” You want to limit contributions, then limit labor’s ability to mobilize their members; limit community planning groups from lobbying city staff; limit newspapers from publishing articles; etc etc etc.
I argue for openness and freedom — the ability to give money, give time, solicit your neighbors, solicit your employees — just disclose it so there is sunshine in the process.
Contribution limits have been a spectacular failure. Let’s get rid of them.
— JOHN KERN