Money in Politics Study–LWVBAE Results Jan. 19, 2016

Money-PoliticsLWVBAE members made their policy recommendations for the national study of Money in Politics at the January 19 meeting at the South Berkeley Public Library. Approximately 15 members participated from BAE and another dozen from the Alameda League made nearly identical policy decisions at the joint meeting.  Most Oakland League members participated in the January 9 meeting in downtown Oakland. The three leagues had joined forces to carry out the study, with Katherine Gavzy, immediate past president of the Oakland League, providing outstanding leadership.

Local League decisions are approved by the local League Board [Jan 28 for BAE], submitted electronically to LWVUS by Feb. 1. The answers of all Leagues are combined; the national Board adopts the resulting grassroot consensus.  Thereafter, LWVUS can use the new positions to lobby.

To question 1, Part I, What should be the goals and purposes of campaign finance regulation, the group agreed that the following should be included: seek political equality for all citizens, protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns, enable candidates to compete equitably for public office, ensure that [all] economic and corporate interests are part of election dialogue, provide voters with sufficient information…to make informed choices, ensure the public’s right to know who is using money to influence elections and combat corruption and undue influence in government.

The only item that participants did not agree on was  “Ensure that candidates have sufficient funds to communicate their messages to the public”–mainly because they found “ensure” would indicate that all candidates–however lacking in seriousness or support from potential voters–would be funded.

In question 2, Part I,  participants identified specific activities as examples–or not–of political corruption.  The main difficulty in making decisions was that the framework for answers was the realistic facts of the current political system. Many of the questions involved evaluating whether the intent of a candidate was to get money for his or her decisions or actions.

 Part II asked questions to identify which kinds of contributors should be able to express their free speech views through campaign contributions or spending and which should have some spending limits–so rich individuals and many different kinds of organizations were identified as requiring some spending limits.

Part II identified appropriate methods for regulating campaign finance to protect the democratic process. The last questions asked how campaign finance regulations should be administered and enforced–the resounding answer –not the current system of even-numbered commission with equal representation of the two major parties. The alternatives were both approved–an odd numbered commission and structural changes to the Federal Election Commission.

The study had 36 questions and separate parts to questions.  To read the details, go to

LWVUS Money in Politics Study Consensus Questions-Answers w_Summary

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