Campaign Finances - National Study Item, 1973
Please refer to the October Aloha Voter and the Sept. National Voter for a background and more details on this subject. Here is additional information to mull over.
"If one examines all aspects of the public process....one finds that
virtually all corruption involves two ingredients, money and secrecy..." John W. Gardner, Chairman, Common Cause.
"The old-style, flat-footed cash
bribe is as out of date as the horse and buggy. Campaign gifts are the all-purpose, pre-packaged modern
equivalent." J.W. Gardner. (This
was written B.A.--Before Agnew!)
Andrew Jackson is said to have started the "spoils" system of granting government jobs and appointments to contributors. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 put a stop to the practice of asking Civil Service workers for money.
Campaigns of old were often more vicious than today as parties or candidates would sometimes buy newspapers and support or attack candidates with little or no regard for the truth.
The first $100 a plate dinner was probably held in 1936 by a Philadelphia contractor.
Radio was first used in the 1924 campaign.
From Political Financing by Herbert Alexander, Citizens Research Foundation.
In a table in the aforementioned publication, it is shown that from 1860 to 1968 the Presidential candidate spending the most money won in all but three cases. Those exceptions were all the campaigns of F.D.R. and those of J.F.K. and L.B.J. In the case of Kennedy versus Nixon, the letters expenditures were almost the same as those of Kennedy and that election was won by so small a margin that many people believe that if it had not been for alleged voting irregularities in Cook County, Ill. and Texas, Nixon would have won.
SOME IDEAS. FOR RAISING MONEY*
Larger dues to belong to a party with the dues being divided between local, state and national organizations, like LWV dues are divided.
Assessment for voting in the primary. The fee would go to the party the voter registered in for that election,
have donation receptacles in supermarkets, banks, etc. before the primary and general elections. Kick-off to the fundraising campaign to be given by the President and other national figures.
A non-partisan campaign fund could be collected by volunteers to buy T.V., radio time, bill board, newspaper space, etc. Funds would be allocated to various parties and candidates on a percentage basis. Regulated by a non-partisan group to avoid corruption or favoritism by party officials.
Tax breaks for candidates for expenses incurred while running for office, such as a salesman is allowed for expenses when selling a product. (A candidate is selling himself).
Matching federal funds for individual donations up to a certain amount. See the National Voter for more discussion on this.
* From: MONEY FOR POLITICS: A
miscellany of Ideas--Citizens Research Foundation.
SOME IDEAS ON POLITICAL STRUCTURE REFORMS TO LESSEN SPENDING:
PRO:--Higher interest because
voters would not have time
to get bored.
--Shorter time to campaign means less money needed
CON:--Perhaps not enough time to get to know a new candidate
--Shorter time does not necessarily mean less money would be spent. More might be spent to create an even greater impact.
--It might lead to campaign by slogan and even less information getting to the public
LONGER TERMS FOR REPRESENTATIVES
PRO:--Four year terms for the House would cut campaigning in half.
--Would give them more time to think about job and not about electioneering.
CON:--Four year term would upgrade office so the stakes would be higher than before so it might increase spending.
--Would upset the staggered terms of elected officials called for in the Constitution that help balance the power structure and gives an indication of the people's wishes more often.
NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY:
PRO:--Because of the varying ways the different states have for choosing their
candidates, voters are
sometimes denied sufficient voice in selecting the nominees.
--Without a uniform date of primary elections it makes it hard to put certain campaign reforms into effect
--Some state primaries are held so early they drag out the campaign and others, like Hawaii, are held so late as to be practically meaningless in selecting the Presidential nominees.
CON--The cost would be tremendous in terms of finances, physical strain on the part of the candidate. Only well-known, well backed candidates would have a chance.
--By having a staggered state primary a candidate can test the water to see if he is a viable candidate before investing too much in the campaign.
ELIMINATION OF THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE:
PRO:--This would give the one-man-one-vote principle direct application in selecting the President.
--The candidate could direct himself directly to the nation rather than to certain key states or delegations of certain states that may not reflect the sentiments of the voters.
--It might influence parties to really try to recruit more members and get out the vote.
CON--A candidate might have to depend even more on television at a higher cost
than before because it
would have to go nationwide. (This would also be true if there were a national Presidential primary.)
--It might be impossible for third parties to wield any influence because they rarely have the funds it takes for a nationwide primary or general campaign.
This is an important discussion
point and is already included in some of the bills being considered in Congress. Refer to pages 11,12, and 13 of the National VOTER for a discussion of this.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
What about publicly financed elections? (a) Should the number of candidates in the primary be restricted? (b) What parties
would be eligible to run candidates? (c) How would the financing be handled?
If we do not have public or partially publicly financed elections, should we (a) set upper limit on the amount a candidate can spend? (b) If so, would this give the incumbent an unfair advantage? (c) Should the limit be a certain amount per
voter or a lump sum per office sought, or what?
If we set an upper limit on expenditures, what happens if the value of the dollar changes?
Should we have no upper limit but have a full disclosure law enforced by a special agency or commission with full enforcement and subpoena powers? Who would appoint this agency and make sure it does its duty?
Should disclosure or limit on
spending law also include gifts
and expenditures for services
that are not cash?
What about "Equal Time" laws? (a) Have, they worked in the
past? (b) Should we support or get rid of them? (c) If we repeal them is there danger of abuse by T.V., radio, or newspapers whose owners may show extreme bias? (d) If answer to above is yes, is there any way to prevent this? (e) Who should control the airways?
If an upper limit is placed on
spending, does this interfere
with an individual's right to
spend his own money as he pleases?
Should unions and corporations be allowed to contribute to a campaign? What about corporations with federal contracts?
Should the government provide a free mailing for candidates
Since many incumbents use their
privileges to mail literature to their constituents, some of which could come under the name of "Campaign literature".
What about some of the abuses committed by some incumbents using taxpayers' money to campaign under the guise of government business or information-giving speeches? Can anything be done to curb this?
Please think about these questions and read as many news articles, books, and League publications as possible to examine all sides of this complicated subject. Keep in mind the consensus questions as you read. In many cases there may be no black or white answer. The best we may be able to do is come up with some ideas that are least complicated, enforceable and fair.
For those members who CANNOT ATTEND the Nov. consensus taking unit, a poll is included (p 13) for you to
fill out and send in. We hope that you will take advantage of this opportunity to register your opinion. Please send to League of Women Voters, 1802 Keeaumoku St., Honolulu, 96822. Questionnaires must be in by Nov. 12. If you have any questions call Marian Wilkins, 261-0549.
Consensus Poll - Campaign Finances
Y stands for yes, N for no and U for undecided
Name ___ Unit ___
1. Should there be limitation on
contributions Y N U
expenditures Y N U
expenditures for media Y N U
number of campaign committees YNU
length of campaigns YNU
BASE OF FUNDING
2. Do you approve broadening the base of campaign financing to include some direct or indirect public funding? Y N U
If YES, do you approve
tax credits/deductions Y N U
income tax check-off Y N U
direct public funding YNU
"free" government services YNU
USE OF THE MEDIA
3. Would you approve modification of the "equal time" law? Y N U
PLEASE PUT ANY COMMENTS YOU MAY HAVE ON A SEPARATE SHEET AND ATTACH TO POLL.