Should Outsiders' Money Influence Elections?

Article excerpt

MAPLight.org- a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group that illuminates the connection between money and politics-issued a report October 28 entitled "Remote Control." The report shows the geographic origin, down to zip code, of indistrict and out-of-district campaign contributions for all members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The research reveals that lawmakers raised $700 million in campaign funds from January 2005 to December 2007. About $551 million of these funds, or 79%, came from out of district. In other words, legislators raised about four out of every five dollars in campaign funds from outside of where their constituents live.

"Instead of a voting democracy, we have a dollar democracy-may the biggestspending special-interest win," said Daniel Newman, MAPLightorgs co-founder and executive director.

"To win an election, a House candidate has to raise an average of $1.3 million in campaign funds- that's $2,500 every working day for an entire two-year term," Newman added. "With such a Herculean fundraising effort required, what time and attention do representatives have left to address the interests of the voters they represent? We, as citizens, pay House members' salaries, we pay to run elections and we pay for all their spending decisions. However, we, as citizens, have handed special interests the remote control, forcing our potential leaders to grovel before PAC leaders and lobbyists to raise the funds needed to win elections. …