Open Discussion board: Why would campaign finance legislation fail? | Winchester Star
Virginia has one of the weakest money-restricting laws in the country’s politics, but now that our state is the 22nd state to support constitutional amendment efforts to get big money out of politics, we’ve been optimistic about which ones Financial reform laws could be passed in the General Assembly. Our pay-to-play status is one of only five with no limit on campaign contributions, despite a study recommended restrictions three decades ago and the fact that over 75 percent of voters, regardless of party, make a lot of money want to get out of politics.
Disappointingly, all but one of the campaign funding bills were defeated in that session. Although our congregation was ranked 46th out of 50 states by the Coalition for Integrity’s Ethics Regulations Index, it didn’t even have the will to pass a law restricting personal use of campaign contributions. Travel to the Bahamas, personal mortgage payments, the sky’s the limit for lawmakers in Virginia.
This year’s bill (HB 1952) introducing restrictions on campaign war crates sailed 100-0 through the House of Delegates, but the Senators lamented the challenge of knowing if they could buy pizza for their advertisers. Senator Jill Vogel called the bill “a major change in policy,” even though we desperately need such a bill and we introduced a similar bill ourselves last year. Now our senators in Virginia can continue to buy and eat pizza with campaign donations.
David Bulova’s bill (HB526) has been passed proposing a study on campaign funding by a joint commission. It doesn’t matter that studies have been conducted in the past few years, but perhaps following this latest study, the Assembly will be ready to examine what citizens voted for years ago and pass the laws necessary to make big money out of politics . This is critical to establishing a legislature that represents the people, not the profits.
The Virginians know that pay-to-play policy favors large companies that can afford large political contributions, and prevents small businesses and regular citizens from accessing lawmakers. The Commonwealth Campaign Funding Bill is passed every year in the Commonwealth, but those bills either never get off the committee or, as this year, are killed by the “grim reapers” in the Virginia Senate.
The Virginians deserve financial accountability and transparency from their state lawmakers. Call your lawmaker and let them know that it costs too much for everyday citizens to be “dumb” about the financial costs of pay-to-play policies. Citizens want their voices to be heard. Get Big Money From Politics.
Kate Simpson is secretary of the Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee.