Letter to the Editor

Legalized corruption

San Luis ObispoFebruary 17, 2014 

Our City Council just nailed shut the coffin of campaign finance reform — reform that made San Luis Obispo the “happiest place.”

Campaign finance regulations were enacted 40 years ago to shed light on where campaign money comes from, and to empower the little guy’s impact on elections by prohibiting large contributions.

The council scuttled both those goals.

Under its new “contribution limits,” it’s now possible for every couple to purchase $1,800 of influence on the council (two council seats and mayor). And that’s before extra contributions from the kids, maid and dog. Perfectly legal, except maybe for the dog.

But who will “contribute” $1,800? Not me, probably not you, but people with money to be made will see this “investment” worthwhile so they can exert influence later. Money and business — the two political forces regulations were intended to keep in line — will henceforth control city elections.

The council also eliminated reporting requirements for “small” contributions (less than $100). Now envelopes with $99 in cash can change hands anonymously.

Folks, this isn’t reform. It’s legalized corruption.

We desperately need smart, dedicated public interest candidates for this year’s election to challenge the incumbents. The future of our “happy place” depends on this.

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