Campaign finance reports showing Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown collecting thousands of dollars in contributions from entities with ties to the Maryland health insurance exchange he oversees should give voters pause. This illustrates why I propose banning corporate and political action committee (PAC) contributions from state elections.
The reason is simple: increase power for the people, and decrease influence of corporations and special interests.
Howard County state legislators' reports from 2012 show some eye-opening facts: 9 of 11 received more than half of their campaign money from businesses and PACs; one got $23,500 from one corporate mogul with multiple business interests, nearly $20,000 more than the legal limit, through exploitation of a loophole; and legislators who serve on or chair committees dealing with such industries as health care, motor vehicles, energy, gambling and insurance received significant and multiple contributions from corporate players in those industries.
My intention is not to question the ethics and integrity of individual legislators — only they can assess that. I do contend that corporate and PAC contributions have an influence on the legislative process, if not overtly through voting decisions, then more covertly through increased access, protection of the status quo, bill-quashing, little-noticed bill alterations, backroom deal-making, and other ways.
Politicians deny that campaign contributions from industries and special interests have any influence on their actions. However, it's hard to deny that human nature inclines toward quid pro quo transactions. This money isn't needed for a fair political process — a matching public funds system would work just as well. Why invite increased chance of corruption, whether real or perceived?
Democratic candidate for delegate, District 12