Left Justified: Invest in America–buy a politician!

Left Justified: Invest in America–buy a politician!

By Stanley Campbell

Invest in America—buy a politician!

There is a new bill floating around Springfield that calls for tight controls on financing Illinois Supreme Court justices’ campaigns. If there’s one group we should watch who gets donations, it’s our judges. So many justices, so little justice…

Rockford Urban Ministries (which I work for) is hosting a discussion of campaign finance reform this Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m. at Bethany United Methodist Church, 410 Eighth St. It’ll mainly focus on Illinois, but will touch on federal laws and the chances of reform. I personally think it’s a snowball’s chance. The politicians now in office won’t kill the goose that lays their golden donations. That would be a bitter egg for them to swallow.

For example, right now it looks like Governor George Ryan will be able to keep his tens of millions of dollars of contributions because he ain’t runnin’ any more. I don’t think the Guv would want to give up his retirement and sign any new campaign finance laws. Maybe for the other guys, but not for him.

What I’d like to see is full disclosure of all campaign contributions, a limit on the amount of cash received, and free air time. That’s right—I said free advertising on radio and television, maybe even newspapers.

We the public own the airwaves, and the least these corporate money-grubbing broadcasters can do is tell us who the candidates are in upcoming elections, and what they stand for. There are some proposals for government financing of elections, but I think universal health care has a better chance of passing (which it doesn’t), and the taxpayers are balking at outright grants to politicians.

I have to be honest, though. If I had $160,000, I would have run for the 16th Congressional Representative seat in 2000. I don’t think I would have won because McHenry County votes for any Republican, dead or alive, human or animal. But I think free money would’ve given me a great start, and the attempt to run would’ve been fun. So if you’re interested in more fun politics, please join Rockford Urban Ministries as Greg Tuite, the Winnebago County Democratic Party chairman, and Gloria Cardenas Cudia, Republican candidate for the 67th Representative District, join Al Sharp from Protestants for the Common Good in a rousing discussion of campaign finance reform. The meeting on campaign finance reform is this Thursday, April 25. It starts at 7 p.m. at Bethany United Methodist Church, 410 Eighth Street.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Minsitries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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