Photo: Ken Herron, Facebook

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.

This piece was published by Ken Herron of Gordon County.

It is likely that none of the members of the State Legislature will be in favor of
making changes in the campaign donations. The current procedures favor the
incumbents and brings in lots of funds that don’t require a big effort from the
candidate. The current procedures also obligate the candidate to vote to please the
large contributor. In the beginning, the founders wanted to have independent free
thinking members of the legislature that would not use their position for selfish ends.

They never anticipated organizations like PACs and corporations providing large
sums of money for the legislatures to guarantee that the incumbents were reelected.
There is no one in this state that can believe that a large contribution from a
Political Action Committee does not create a sale of influence by the candidate. Each
PAC has a position that they are protecting or promoting. Accepting a contribution
from them is an acknowledgment that the candidate will favor this position. The
voters would like to see the State Legislature takes some steps to keep the integrity
of its members as pure as possible. This is even more important in Congress but
changing the federal laws is very near impossible. We can and should regulate the
campaign contributions to our state candidates to make our elections more equitable
and keep our representatives independent.

It looks very suspicious of undercover activities when there is more money spent
on the campaign to get elected than the job will pay during the term of the position.

A Representative to the State Legislature will be paid $17,442 in salary each year.
He or she will be allowed expenses of $6,920 for the 40 day session. He or she is being
elected to a two year term so his total income from being elected will be $48,724.
Perhaps the income from the term of service should be the limit of funds that can be
spent to secure the nomination in the party primary for this position. For other
positions the same formula could be used. This would certainly level the playing field
for the challengers for the positions in the elections.

In our recent elections we saw contributions of millions of dollars from outside
of our state by contributors who had no motivation other than to support a political
party. They were trying to override the views of legitimate voters in our state. We
should ban or limit contributions to candidates from PACs and corporations from
outside of the state. Our governor’s race in 2018 was almost overthrown by funds
that came from individuals and PACs from California that simply wanted to see the
party control change. They did not have the best interest of the people of our state
in their intent.

We need to have independent citizens serving in our state government. They
should not be elected to serve a corporation or a social organization. The only voters
in our elections are the citizens of the state. The election should be totally the results
of the actions of the citizens. Corporations do not vote. Organizations do not vote.

PACs do not vote. We should encourage citizen contributions. Perhaps it should be
considered to only allow citizens within the state to contribute to political campaigns.
PACs purpose for contributing to campaigns is to obligate the candidate to vote in
favor of their positions and this is not good.

One of the results of changes to contribution rules that reduce spending is that
the candidates will be required to personally visit more of the voters in his or her
district during the campaign.

All of us like to believe that all of the candidates that receive our vote are honest
and will do the right thing. We do not understand when a politician is elected and is
able to accumulate a lot more money from the job than the position is paying.
Whatever causes this situation should be illegal and criminal. This condition is very
common in the candidates that go to Washington.

When a law governing campaign contributions is passed it should include severe
punishments even as strong as losing their position and making the holder ineligible
to qualify for another political position. Severe fines and prison terms might be used
for the worst cases.

Several years ago there was a limit on the prices that TV stations, newspapers,
and radio stations could charge for political advertising. They were required to
charge the lowest advertising rate they had charged during the previous year.
Currently it seems that they are charging even higher rates for political advertising
than for other advertising. Perhaps this regulation should be restored for the
political seasons.

I recognize that getting any change in Campaign Contributions or Campaign
Expenses in State Government Elections is somewhere between Slim and None, but
maybe this newsletter will cause some of the legislators to think about these things.

Suggested Limitations To Campaign Expenses
1. Limit Expenses To Income From The Position
2. No Contributions From Outside of State
3. Ban Contributions From PACs and Businesses
4. Only Allow Contributions From Citizen Voters
5. Regulate The Cost of Advertising To Candidates

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