Cold Fusion – Campaign Finance Edition

Recently over lunch, again, a former colleague of mine, from the party of which I am not a member, and I discussed a major difference between DC and Virginia politics.

We both agreed that Virginia’s law banning legislators from raising money or even attending fundraisers during Session was worth replicating at the federal level.

He lamented, “Can you imagine having to raise money while legislation is going on? Oh my God! That’s awful!”

It’s unseemly at best. But that’s what we have in DC. And it pervades everything else.

This can change, but not without legislation. (stop laughing)

Gallup surveys over the years have revealed four factors people look for in their leaders:

Trust
Stability
Compassion
Hope

What better way to restore trust in our federal government than this exercise in self-restraint?

While Congress is in Session, like Virginia, simply ban raising money or attending fundraisers.

It does not tip the balance in favor of either party and members would no longer have to spend every afternoon making fundraising phone calls and instead could use that time to, oh I don’t know….legislate?

Self restraint is, or was anyway, at the heart of the Constitution. It was designed to limit the power of the federal government.

Restoring trust in our federal government can begin with this simple, little bill.

Decouple voting from campaign fundraising – novel concept, I know. But it works here in Virginia.

Legislators get their jobs done, go home, and then raise money.

But when the gavel comes down, it’s over. Time to work.

Virginia’s legislature gets the job done and it goes into overtime but not for too long because opponents do not share that restriction. Ahhh….

It levels the playing field, somewhat (stop laughing), between incumbents and challengers.

More importantly, it sends a signal to the people that money will not directly influence decision making. Not to say that it never does, but this creates a firewall from overt corruption and or its systemic development.

Virginia legislators dare not even discuss fundraising during session. It’s a HUGE No No.

Compare some of the differences between Virginia and DC.

Virginia has a AAA bond rating, a balanced budget, and is in session 60 days one year and 45 the next.

DC? Nope, nope, and heck to the nope.

While many of the statewide candidates this year are running against the federal government, maybe they should be looking to run AT the federal government with what Virginia does so well – govern. On time and on budget.

Want to restrain federal spending?

Start with campaign finance reform that does not violate freedom of speech. Time, manner, and place restrictions are not unconstitutional.

Virginia also has no cap on amount of donations or corporate donations for that matter. Simple rules here – no cash, full disclosure.

With the internet, you can require all contributions be posted online within 24 hours or better – real time.

Simple exercises in self restraint are a pragmatic way of restoring trust in our government.

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Chris Saxman

About Chris Saxman

Father of four, small business leader, retired politician, and Executive Committee member and former Chairman of an international trade association, Chris Saxman delivers strategy and insight as a political coach and keynote speaker. Contact Chris.

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