The money behind the mess

The money behind the mess

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Bob Hall

You’ve seen the news stories about House Speaker Jim Black and the money-in-politics mess in Raleigh. If you were asked "Do you want to clean up the special-interest domination of state politics?" I hope you’d say "Yes."

That question, in different words, is actually on your state income-tax form, but you may never see it if you use an accountant or certain software packages. The actual question asks if you want to transfer $3 of your state taxes into the N.C. Public Campaign Fund. (Saying "Yes" doesn’t change your tax bill or refund; it just earmarks $3 of the taxes you’re already paying.)

The Public Campaign Fund gives candidates for North Carolina’s top courts the option of rejecting support from special-interest donors and, instead, qualifying for access to "clean" public money. It’s the first step in providing a real alternative to the arms race in political fund-raising that has overtaken state politics. The program effectively rewards accountability to voters — candidates must refuse big PAC donations and raise hundreds of small donations from registered voters to qualify to use the fund. (more…)