Are Democracy Dollars A Fix For Public Financing of Campaigns? | The Line


>>WELCOME BACK TO THE LINE
OPINION PANEL. WE ARE TALKING CAMPAIGN
FINANCE FOR THE NEXT FEW MINUTES. SPECIFICALLY TWO MEASURES ON
THE BALLOT FOR ALBUQUERQUE VOTERS IN NOVEMBER. EACH ONE RAISES THE AMOUNT OF
PUBLIC FINANCING FOR QUALIFIED CANDIDATES FROM A BUCK A VOTER
TO A $1.75. ONE OF THOSE PROPOSALS WOULD
ALSO CREATE WHAT IS CALLED DEMOCRACY DOLLARS. THAT IS THE NAME FOR $25
VOUCHERS THAT REGISTERED VOTERS, AS WELL AS SOME
OTHERS, WE’LL GET TO THAT, WILL GET TO DONATE TO A
PUBLICLY-FINANCED CANDIDATE. THIS BUGS YOU. IN A VERY DEEP WAY. HERE IS WHY.>>YEAH, I THINK, YOU KNOW,
THERE IS MULTIPLE CONVERSATIONS. ONE WE HAVE ALL THE FINANCING
CAMPAIGNS. NOW WE ARE GOING TO GIVE
DEMOCRACY DOLLARS. MAKE NO MISTAKE, THESE ARE NOT
DEMOCRACY DOLLARS. THEY ARE YOUR DOLLARS,
TAXPAYER DOLLARS. THEY DON’T DEFINE WHO THE
CITIZENS ARE THAT GET THEM, THE VOTERS ARE THAT GET THEM,
HOW LONG THEY HAVE TO BE HERE. THERE IS ALSO IF YOU READ THE
BILLS THAT THEY ARE PROPOSING, ONCE THIS GOES PASSED, ONCE
VOTERS VOTE THIS IN, THEN THE CITY COUNCIL, AT ANY TIME, CAN
UP THE AMOUNT OF MONEY. THEY CAN DECIDE HOW MUCH MONEY
THEY PUT IN THE RACES AND DON’T HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE
VOTERS. THERE IS NO REAL
UNDERSTANDING — AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT,
JUST IN THE SO-CALLED DEMOCRACY DOLLARS, WE ARE
TALKING ABOUT ALMOST 15 MILLION DOLLARS FLOATING
AROUND THE CITY FOR PEOPLE TO GO GOBBLE UP AND USE HOW THEY
CHOOSE. SO I THINK IT IS NOT WELL
THOUGHT OUT. I THINK IT IS INTERESTING THAT
THE FOLKS THAT ARE PROMOTING THIS ARE REALLY GOOD AT
KEEPING IT ON THE QT. WHERE ARE THE DEBATES? AND PEOPLE SAYING, WE TALKED
ABOUT SICK LEAVE, WE HAD PUBLIC DEBATES ABOUT IT. WE HAD EDITORIALS FROM ALL
TYPES OF PEOPLE AND THIS IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT IS
GENERATING AND GOING THROUGH THE DEAL THERE AND I THINK
THERE IS A MILLION QUESTIONS AND NO ANSWERS.>>INTERESTING POINT THERE. MICHAEL BARRIO, THAT IS A
PRETTY SCATHING INDICTMENT THERE OF THE DEMOCRACY DOLLAR. WHAT IS YOUR REBUTTAL, SIR?>>MY REBUTTAL, DAN —
>>WILL IT BE A REBUTTAL?>>WELL, I AM GENERALLY IN
FAVOR. I LIKE THE IDEA OF DEMOCRACY
DOLLARS. I LIKE THE IDEA OF ATTEMPTING
TO TAKE BIG MONEY OUT OF ELECTIONS. I THINK THAT WE KNOW THAT
PRECLUDES A LOT OF THINGS FROM HAPPENINGS.>>IS THE MONEY TOO BIG FOR
OUR MAYORAL RACES FOR YOUR COMFORT?>>NO. I DON’T THINK I HAVE AN
OPINION EXACTLY ON THAT. I WOULD SAY —
>>IDEA OF RUNNING ON $380,000 —
[MULTIPLE VOICES]>>PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE TO TAKE
PUBLIC FINANCES BUT WE ARE GOING TO GIVE ALL THESE
DOLLARS TO EVERYBODY IN THE RACE, SO, NOW, IF I CHOOSE TO
NOT TAKE PUBLIC FINANCING, THEN I DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO
DEMOCRACY DOLLARS, SO ALL THE PEOPLE THAT GOT THESE DOLLARS
GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM IF THEY SUPPORT ME. THEY CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO
WITH THEM. DO THEY GIVE THEM TO SOMEBODY? I DON’T KNOW.>>JANICE YOUR THOUGHT.>>THIS REALLY BOILS DOWN TO
BALLOT ACCESS AND WE COULD ACTUALLY SOLVE THIS AND ONE OF
THE WAYS WE SOLVE IT IS WE REVAMP, RETOOL OUR PUBLIC
FINANCING. TRUTH IS, IF YOU’RE RUNNING
FOR MAYOR, YOU HAVE TO HAVE 3,080 $5 DONATIONS. YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT BALLOT
ACCESS? WHO PUTS THOSE PROGRAMS
TOGETHER AND IT IS SEASONED CONSULTANTS WHO RUN PEOPLE OUT
THERE. SO TO SAY JUST JOE BLOW CAN
RUN BECAUSE OF THOSE DOLLARS, THAT IS NOT TRUE. DEMOCRACY DOLLARS, GEEZ, IF WE
LIMIT IT, THANKFULLY, LIMIT IT ONLY TO MAYORAL RACE, AGAIN,
HOW MANY VOUCHERS? DO YOU GET ONLY ONE? DO YOU GET FOUR? ARE WE GOING TO EXPAND IT TO
CITY COUNCIL RACES BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, EVEN WITH OUR
CURRENT PUBLIC FINANCING, WE STILL HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF
MONEY IN THE KITTY, BUT I AM NOT SO SURE AFTER THE NEXT
ELECTION WE WILL HAVE THAT. AND, SO, WE HAVE NO ANALYSIS. THIS IS A PIG IN A POKE AS FAR
AS I AM CONCERNED, BUT IS IT GOING TO GIVE YOU BETTER
CANDIDATES, MORE GRASS ROOTS CANDIDATES? THE ANSWER IS NO.>>SO, SOPHIE I DO HAVE A
QUESTION IF YOU WANT TO TALK ON THAT I UNDERSTAND, BUT THE
MAYOR WE HAVE NOW, THE LAST PERSON WHO TOOK THE PUBLIC
FINANCING, HE IS THE MAYOR NOW. THERE WAS ASTERISK IN THERE. HE GOT A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER
MONEY FROM OTHER ENTITIES THAT ONE COULD CALL IT PAC OR
WHATEVER YOU CALL IT, BUT THERE WAS A TON OF MONEY THAT
CAME IN THROUGH THE SIDE DOOR AS WELL AS PUBLIC FINANCING. WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THAT?>>THAT IS ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT IS PARTICULARLY CONCERNING BECAUSE I THINK
THIS IS AN ATTEMPT, IT IS AN ATTEMPT TO REINJECT THE VOICE
OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC INTO ESPECIALLY THE PRIMARY PROCESS
TO GIVE PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO INVEST, EVEN IF IT IS THE
TAXPAYER’S MONEY, IN CANDIDATES. CERTAINLY, ONE OF THE
DISCUSSIONS THAT HAS BEEN HELD FOR SOME TIME ABOUT PUBLIC
FINANCING, ONE OF THE CHALLENGES IS, YOU KNOW, WHEN
YOU GIVE SOMEBODY $5, IT IS NOT NECESSARILY, SO THAT IS
ONE OF THE QUALIFYING DONATIONS, THAT IS NOT
NECESSARILY $5 AND I COMMIT DEFINITELY I AM GOING TO VOTE. DOES THE $25 COMMITMENT EVEN
IF IT IS NOT REALLY YOUR MONEY, GET YOU MORE ENGAGED? DO YOU BECOME A MORE ACTIVE
PARTICIPANT IN THE PROCESS? THERE IS THE TWO SIDES. IS
THE MONEY GETTING TO THE CANDIDATE BUT THERE IS ALSO
THIS CONCERN THAT IF FUNDING ISN’T DONE CORRECTLY IT
DISENFRANCHISES OR DISENGAGES VOTERS. SO, IT IS AN EXPERIMENT. I THINK IT IS AN EXPERIMENT
STILL IN SEATTLE WHERE IT HAS BEEN GOING ON BUT,..
>>THERE IS A LEARNING CURVE.>>EXACTLY.>>BUT I DO THINK, TO YOUR
INITIAL QUESTION, I DO THINK THE ISSUE OF OUTSIDE MONEY IS
ONE THAT IS STILL OF GREAT CONCERN. JUST BECAUSE YOUR CANDIDATE
GOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT, DOESN’T MAKE IT AN AWESOME
THING.>>IT IS CALL A MEASURE
FINANCE COMMITTEE.>>WE HAVE NOT SOLVED THAT
ISSUE. WE ARE QUITE FAR FROM THAT. SO THIS IS CHIPPING AROUND THE
EDGES AND IT ALSO DEALS WITH A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN JUST
GETTING THE MONEY. NOW, I REPEAT DAN’S QUESTION,
WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM? HOW DOES THAT WORK? THOSE ARE DETAILS I AM NOT
QUITE SATISFIED ABOUT.>>THERE IS A LEARNING CURVE,
NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT, BUT WHEN YOU HAVE GOT THAT GROUP I JUST
MENTIONED FROM MAYOR KELLER RAISED $680,000. WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? IT IS PUBLIC FINANCE OR NOT. IT IS EITHER PUBLICLY-FUNDED
OR IT IS NOT. YOU CAN’T HAVE A BLEND BUT
APPARENTLY WE DO.>>I THINK THAT THERE IS AN
ISSUE THERE.>>IT IS A SUPREME COURT
ISSUE.>>EXACTLY.>>BUT WITH REGARD TO THE
LEARNING CURVE BIT, SEATTLE IS STILL HAVING A LEARNING CUFF. APPARENTLY THERE WAS LESS
UPTAKE OF VOUCHERS THIS YEAR THAN THERE WERE IN 2017. TO ME, THOUGH, THOSE KINDS OF
THINGS ARE NOT ENOUGH OF A REASON TO NOT EXPLORE
INNOVATIVE IDEAS FOR TRYING TO TAKE GIANT PAC MONEY OUT OF
ELECTIONS AND MAKING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS MORE ACCESSIBLE.>>ESPECIALLY WHEN THE LAST
FINANCING DEAL WE HAVE A MAYOR THAT GOT ELECTED AND RAISED
MORE PAC MONEY, DARK MONEY THAN ANYBODY ELSE HAS DONE. THE THING THAT I AM WORRIED
ABOUT WITH THIS IS AT THE END OF THE DAY — THIS IS FROM
SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN IN THE POLITICAL WORLD. THIS IS MORE WAYS TO HIRE
CONSULTANTS AND DISTANCE PEOPLE FROM THE PROCESS. THIS IS JUST GOING TO NOW
INSTEAD OF GOING OUT — WHEN I FIRST RAN FOR OFFICE, IT WAS
ME AND FRIENDS AND MY WIFE SITTING AROUND THE KITCHEN
TABLE AND GET KIDS AND PEOPLE AT WORK TO GO OUT. YOU START PUTTING THIS KIND OF
MONEY IN THESE RACES, THAT IS DONE. YOU’RE NOW HIRING NONPROFITS,
HIRING INDIVIDUALS, COMPANIES. THEY ARE TAKING THIS THING AND
I THINK THAT IS THE BIGGEST DISENFRANCHISEMENT WE HAVE IN
THE ELECTION PROCESS, EVERYTHING IS DONE BY PEOPLE
WHO FLY IN, YOU KNOW, ALL THEY DO IS CONSULT ON ELECTIONS AND
WE HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO GET OUT AND SHAKE HANDS AND
KNOCK ON DOORS. I REMEMBER LITERALLY WHEN I
FIRST RAN I SPENT FOUR AND FIVE HOURS A DAY GOING DOOR TO
DOOR IN THE COLD, EVERYTHING YOU COULD THINK OF, BEING
CALLED EVERY NAME AND MAKING FRIENDS. YOU START TO PUT THIS MONEY IN
IT IS MORE OF A MAIL CAMPAIGN, ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN,
BILLBOARDS, BECOMES MORE OF FORUMS AND LESS INTERACTION
WITH THE PEOPLE.>>JANICE, I KNOW YOU HAVE A
DIFFERENT POINT BUT SOMETHING INTERESTING YOU SAID. IN FACT, YOU’RE RIGHT, IT DOES
TAKE A MACHINE TO GO GET THOSE $5 DONATIONS. PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING THAT
ONLY ONE CANDIDATE EVEN ATTEMPTED IT. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT IS THE
PROBLEM RIGHT THERE. SOMETHING IS NOT QUITE WORKING
THERE.>>IT IS OUR STRUCTURE OF
PUBLICLY-FINANCED ELECTIONS BUT THERE IS ANOTHER SIDE TO
THIS, SO THE BACK SIDE THAT IS ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PEOPLE, THE
ACCOUNTING PART, THE OPEN AND HONEST ETHICS PART IS
ABSOLUTELY DYSFUNCTIONAL. IF YOU ADD THIS ON TOP OF IT,
YOU JUST THROW IT ALL UP IN THE AIR BECAUSE IT WILL JUST
BE THE PACS. BACK TO ANOTHER POINT ABOUT
THE PACS, LOOK AT WHAT WE CALL THE PACS. EVERYBODY THINKS IT XEROX OR
IT IS CHEVRON. THAT IS NOT THE PACS THAT IS
PUTTING MONEY IN THIS STATE. IT IS NONPROFIT 501C4 PACS. THEY ARE NOT CORPORATIONS. THEY ARE ADVOCACY AND PUTTING
IN A TON OF MONEY AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHO I BELIEVE, DAN IS
RIGHT, THEY COME IN AND SEE THESE $25 AND IT LOOKS LIKE
PAYDAY.>>WE EXPERIMENTED WITH PRC
AND JUDGES AND ALL THIS STUFF AND IT SEEMS LIKE WHAT WE ARE
GETTING HERE, IT IS NOT QUITE THERE YET.>>THE GROUP IS BACK TO TALK
ABOUT THE GOVERNOR’S PLAN TO MAKE STATE COLLEGES AND
UNIVERSITIES FREE TO MOST NEW MEXICANS IN A MOMENT. WE SIT DOWN WITH THREE MIDDLE
AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WHO PLAN TO BE A PART OF THE
GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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