Editor, Times-Union:
Gary Gerard’s “News Views” column on Aug. 2 pointed to a major problem in American democracy, a problem that threatens to undermine one of the bases of any democracy: the free flow of information about our government and, in this case, how political campaigns are funded. It is a serious danger that we cannot know who is funding what, whether the “who” be a person or a corporation or a trade union.
In addition to campaign finance reform and full disclosure of the sources of campaign funding, we need a Congress willing to fund the FEC appropriately. It’s not enough to denounce the Federal Election Commission for failure to do its job when Congress does not provide the resources to the FEC to do its job properly. During the past 15 years, the FEC’s job has grown much larger and more complex and, in the same period, funding has stayed flat. Though this doesn’t explain the delays in the FEC’s reporting (as noted in a NY Times article on July 16), one wonders if funding is a part of the problem: Does the agency lack the resources to do its job properly? And does the Congress rather enjoy the fact that the FEC can’t do its job properly?
One item that Mr. Gerard didn’t address is the Supreme Court decision that grants corporations the same rights as individuals when it comes to campaign financing (the infamous “Citizens United” case). I urge all citizens of our community to write to our senators (Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly) in support of a new constitutional amendment that will be introduced in the U.S. Senate in September. This amendment appears to be needed, given the current Supreme Court makeup, in order to reduce the excessive influence of big business and the wealthy on our elections and will be proposed by the redoubtable Bernie Sanders (Independent, Vermont; information available on Senator Sanders’s Website and his Facebook page).
Please join me in writing to Senators Coats and Donnelly. Unless many of us raise our voices, nothing will change. Help to protect democracy from the tyranny of the few.
Jim Eisenbraun
Warsaw, via email