The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


April 19, 2014

Reducing money's influence in politics

The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald

There’s no doubt that money influences politics — in big ways.

Big money influences politics in even bigger ways, sometimes leading to corruption.

That’s why there are federal caps on the amount of money someone can donate to a single candidate — now $2,600 for U.S. president or members of Congress.

But limiting the overall amount of money an individual can donate in a given year to multiple candidates, political parties and political action committees is an infringement on Americans’ First Amendment rights, whether we like the role money plays in politics or not.

That’s why we agree with the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that strikes down federal limits on the overall campaign contributions an individual donor can make each election cycle.

While we are worried about how those with big pockets can influence policy in Washington D.C., Springfield, or even locally, we think there’s a better way to reduce that influence than curbing individual freedoms — term limits.

In Illinois, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan is the poster child for term limits. A member of the state House since 1971, he has been Speaker for all but two years since 1983. The vast majority of Illinoisans have not been able to cast a single vote either for or against Madigan, yet he holds the real power in Springfield.

Given where this state is financially, most Illinoisans, we suspect, would be in favor of his reign coming to an end.

Bruce Rauner, Republican candidate for Illinois governor, and the Committee for Legislative Reform and Term Limits are gathering signatures in an attempt to get a term limit amendment on the November ballot. We support efforts to give Illinois voters a say, and we’d support a similar effort nationally for members of Congress.

We’ll never fully be able to eliminate money’s influence on our elected officials, but term limits are a better option than curbing First Amendment rights.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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