Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton apparently ignored this:
The Charter of the Democratic Party says the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates.
On the day the primary election ballots arrived in my mailbox, I also received an attack ad, from a group opposed to 41st LD state Senate candidate Lisa Wellman. Wow, they’re starting early this year! In 2010 her opponent, Steve Litzow, won by about 200 votes because of last-minute attack ads sent out by an organization funded by the Koch Brothers; at least they waited til right before the general election. Unfortunately, attack ads tend to work, regardless of the accuracy of their content.
Here’s hoping that Washington State voters wise up and realize that the Republican policies serve the few, by burdening us with regressive taxes. For example, did you know that Republicans actually raised your taxes? The regressive gas tax just went up a nickel and will rise again next year [Oops. I got that wrong. It rose last year. My apologies.] Republicans are OK with regressive taxes, such as the gas tax and the sales tax. But they vehemently oppose closing tax loopholes that favor the rich, and they oppose taxing capital gains.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Sumner, made it into the political news recently. The FBI has been looking into her campaign fundraising.
Image courtesy of Integrity Washington
What is strange is that Sen. Roach has said out loud what everyone walking the halls of the state Capitol knows: There is an intimate connection between campaign contributions, lobbying and legislators’ decisions on bills to support and to oppose. But our elected legislators are not supposed to publicly acknowledge these connections.
In 2014, Sen. Roach was campaigning for re-election. She was opposed by a fellow Republican, then-state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist of Enumclaw. Roach was trying to raise money for her campaign. By email, she reminded the Spokane private utility company, Avista, that she’d just been appointed to a legislative energy-policy advisory committee. Sleazy? Absolutely! Stupid? Yes. But, when these sentiments remain unspoken, absolutely commonplace.
What are we to expect when campaigns cost more than $200,000? If candidates don’t succeed raising money, they aren’t considered legitimate. So they spend a lot of time on the phone, organizing fundraisers, meeting lobbyists and the heads of political action committees, all in pursuit of campaign dollars. Who wouldn’t be surprised by legislative votes; just follow the money.
In the 44th District there is a real race between John Lovick, Democrat, who is the former Snohomish County executive and Janice Huxford, a Republican from Lake Stevens. Lovick has raised $47,000 and Huxford has raised $57,000. Whose on Huxford’s side? Premera, Regence, Ace Hardware, the Washington Food Industry Association, and the Trucking Action Committee. How about Lovick? The grocery store workers union, the Snohomish FireFighters, the teachers’ union, the state troopers and service employees. Who as a legislator will consider the public good?
How about unopposed candidates? Take for example Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe. He doesn’t have an opponent. Why would he need any campaign funds? But they have piled in, with Altria (Phillip Morris tobacco), 7-Eleven, Anhaueser-Busch, Chevron, the American Chemistry Council, PHRMA, Boeing, and Washington Banking PAC all contributing at least $900. Will Senator Pearson consider the public good of, for example, reining in drug prices, or will he be careful not to disturb the current status quo of the drug corporations and their high prices and profits?
Sen. Roach has merely pulled back the curtain on candidate-campaign contributors-legislative interactions. We don’t like what we see, but it happens all the time.
Is there a solution to this not-so-subtle corruption of public decision making? Yes! An unusual gathering of citizens, including tea party leaders, the League of Women Voters, and Connie Balmer,wife of ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer, are supporting Initiative 1464, the Washington Government Accountability Act.
This initiative will limit donations from lobbyists to candidates to $100. I-1464 also sets up a voucher system, sending three $50 vouchers, called Democracy Credit contributions, to every voter in the state of Washington. As a voter, you decide if you want to contribute these vouchers to a legislative candidate. So instead of begging for $1,000 contributions from affluent residents, candidates would be motivated to request $50, $100 or $150 contributions from regular citizens, and actually give them a reason to make these donations. To be a qualified candidate to receive democracy vouchers, the candidate must receive at least 75 cash contributions of between $10 and $50. If they choose to participate, they cannot accept other contributions to their campaigns, be those from Boeing or Comcast or Jeff Bezos. They cannot contribute more than $5,000 of their own money for their campaigns. Their campaigns are limited to $150,000 to raise and spend. So they can’t buy their elections, and neither can the corporations and their lobbyists in Olympia.
Where does the money come from for Democracy vouchers? Right now, if you don’t live in Washington but you buy things in Washington, you don’t have to pay our sales tax. When my sister-in-law from Oregon comes up for Thanksgiving, or all those cruise boat passengers spend time in Seattle, they buy stuff and it’s all exempt from the sales tax. We pay it. They don’t.
Closing this sales tax loophole will provide the financing for Democracy vouchers. That would put an end to voiced and unvoiced quid pro quo between lobbyists, candidates, elected legislators, and corporations in the halls of Olympia.
Our democracy would actually reflect the will of the people!
Originally published in the Everett Herald »
In April of this year, The Free Thought Project published an article Land of the Free? Harvard Study Ranks America Worst in the West for Fair Elections in which it says
As if further proof could possibly be needed of the sorry state of the American electoral process, a new study just ranked the United States dead last in electoral integrity among established Western democracies.
The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP)’s 2015 Year in Elections report is an independent research project by 2,000 elections experts from Harvard University and the University of Sydney in Australia assembled to examine the world’s elections.
This reminded me of the many articles and books (e.g., by Bev Harris) suggesting widespread election fraud in U.S. elections, especially in Ohio in 2004 and 2008. Election fraud would be harder if there were a paper trail or other means of verifying vote counting. I looked at the Wikipedia article on Electoral Fraud, wondering if people had proposed eliminating the secret ballot. Would you be willing to sacrifice the right to a secret ballot in exchange for a the ability to verify votes?
The secret ballot, in which only the voter knows how individuals
have voted, is a crucial part of ensuring free and fair elections through preventing voter intimidation or retribution.It was sometimes practiced in ancient Greece and was a part of the Constitution of the Year III of 1795, it only became common in the nineteenth century. ….
I changed it to say:
The secret ballot, in which only the voter knows how they have voted, is believed by many to be a crucial part of ensuring free and fair elections through preventing voter intimidation or retribution.  Others argue that the secret ballot enables election fraud (because it makes it harder to verify that votes have been counted correctly)   and that it discourages voter participation . Although the secret ballot was sometimes practiced in ancient Greece and was a part of the Constitution of the Year III of 1795, it only became common in the nineteenth century. ….
(I referred to [49=Why You Should Expect Challenges To Secret Ballots], [50=Consequences of the Secret Ballot and Electronic Voting], [51=Scrap the Secret Ballot], and [52=Abolish the Secret Ballot].)
I believe my edit is valid, because the original wording stated as a fact that “is a crucial part of ensuring free and fair elections.” That’s not a fact. It’s an opinion. It will be interesting to see if someone undoes my editing. In Battle over the facts concerning Chuck Hagel I discuss a previous experience with editing a wikipedia article.
I also edited https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_ballot#Criticism, adding “Some people believe that the secret ballot enables election fraud and so should be eliminated  or supplemented with other ways of verifying voting, such as cryptographically secure reciepts.  “.