Clean Elections stops special interest money

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

While Dick Randolph's Jan. 28 opinion piece, "A better way to fix Alaska," said little about the so-called anti-corruption initiative he is supporting, he did manage to get quite a few things wrong about the Clean Elections initiative.

Clean Elections would rid elections of special interest money. Candidates who choose to participate would be unable to raise money from private sources, which directly addresses special interest money by removing it.

In Arizona, more than 80 percent of candidates now run using the Clean Elections system. Special interests would not be able to "pay to play" as Randolph asserts. Alaska lawmakers would continue to be citizen legislators and not professional politicians. Clean Elections has consistently encouraged more candidates to run by leveling the playing field and reducing the role of money in the electoral system. VECO employees donated to 20 lawmakers who are still in office. Clean Elections can stop that type of corrupting influence.

Randolph states that the debate should be about the merits. I agree, but his piece never mentioned what his so-called anti-corruption legislation will do. One thing it will do is negate Clean Elections. That is stated in its first sentence. The choice is clear.

Randolph also is confusing democratic debate about important Alaska issues with what he terms as "one of the worst examples of McCarthyism I've seen in quite some time." McCarthyism? Really? That occurred when Joe McCarthy used the government's power to silence dissent. In this case, we have a small Alaska nonprofit working in Alaska on an Alaska initiative. On the other side is another group of people, some from outside Alaska, working against that initiative. The U.S. Senate hearings and blacklist are noticeably absent. AkPIRG's annual budget is likely less than what Howard Rich has given to fight Clean Elections in Alaska, yet we don't know because he and the so-called anti-corruption initiative haven't disclosed the amount.

I support Randolph's democratic right to work for or against any ballot initiative he chooses, and his right to associate with any wealthy, special interest he chooses to aid in that effort. I support his right to single out my organization and my friend and board member, but at least get the facts right. Alaskans deserve it.

Steve Cleary

Director, AkPIRG


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