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It's the public financing, stupid!

In a surprising development, The Hill reported yesterday that Republican Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio) has been discussing public financing of congressional elections with Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin (Ill.) and Christopher Dodd (Conn.), and might join them in co-sponsoring  a public financing bill. Said the prescient GOPer: “Maybe it is the answer. Too much of our time is spent raising money, time spent campaigning, time buying TV ads. Everyone’s out there trying to raise money… until we deal with this issue, you’re going to continue to have problems.”

Give that man a cigar! We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

While any public financing plan will face an awfully tough slog in a Congress so controlled and corrupted by special interest money, the support of a vocal Republican senator promises to change the dynamic considerably. A related problem that will need to be tackled is the strange disconnect, reviewed here by Kevin Drum, between the popularity of public financing for state elections and the perception here in Washington that the public hates the idea. Hmmmm. Could members of Congress perhaps be getting their information from corporate lobbyists?

Back to Voinovich for a final thought: it’s worth noting that in addition to considering public financing, he is also talking up lack of enforcement of current lobbying rules.

“How are we enforcing our laws? Things are filed, and, in some cases, nothing’s done about it,” Voinovich lamented, calling the notion of exempting lobbyist-sponsored fundraisers from the congressional gift ban “ridiculous.”

Once again, we couldn’t agree more. The irony here, though, is that the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics is none other than… yes, you guessed it… Sen. George Voinovich! So what IS up with that whole enforcement thing, George?

-Gordon Clark