Friday, September 08, 2006

For Sale: Senate Seat

Election season is upon us and that means I get to be entertained by campaign politics, which seems like regular politics on steroids. As I was looking at some of the close races being covered by the New York Times I stumbled upon one little blurb in one senate race that needs to be discussed. The article about this year's senate race in Rhode Island has this little fact at the end of the article:

All told, more than 80 percent of the money in this race comes from outside the state.

This is just wrong. The fact that money has a large influence in our political system is not news but there should be sharp limits on which money gets to have that influence. I think that at least 75% of all money in any campaign should come from those who fall within the jurisdiction being contested. In other words, for a statewide office such as senator or governor, at least 75% of the money in either campaign should come from within the state. For national offices - in other words the president - 25% or less of the money should come from international donors. For congressional seats 75% of the money should come from within the congressional district. The same should hold true for campaigns at all levels of government. In all these cases the 75% limit should probably be applied to every type of donor - individuals, businesses, and special interest groups.

I suspect that this particular problem is most pronounced in senate and congressional races. I would be very surprised to learn that 80% of the money in a presidential campaign came from a foreign country - just as I would be surprised to learn that the campaign for my local school board seat was being financed by a corporation in Kissimmee Florida. Regardless of where the problem is the worst, the rules should be the same at all levels of government.

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