Campaign financing should be made public
To the Editor:
With hindsight, it can be said that there were positive and negative aspects to the mid-term elections earlier this month.
On the plus side, the Greencastle League of Women Voters was very pleased that the percentage of people voting in the election increased over previous mid-term elections. In Putnam County more than 44 percent turned out to vote. The League was active this election season by registering voters at McDonald's and by cooperating with high schools to get 18-year-olds registered.
On the minus side, incivility and negative campaigning were evident as citizens were subjected to phone calls ("push" ads), TV ads, and mailings. Greencastle was not immune to these trends, but with the complaints came the implied expectation of a higher standard of behavior.
In the interest of having informed citizens, this brings up the issue of campaign financing. Who paid for all this negative publicity? Billions of dollars were spent in the election, but by whom? How can anyone evaluate the truthfulness of advertising if the funding source is kept hidden?
Knowledge of who paid for these ads would have revealed what political agendas and special interests gave the candidates financial support and to whom the candidate would be beholden.
This secret money highlights the need for government structure to protect grassroots voters from special interests. The national and local League of Women Voters believe that an informed voter makes our democracy work.
Concern about the lack of transparency of candidates' financial backing drives the LWV's unwavering support for the DISCLOSE ACT for Campaign Finance Reform. If voters rather than money are the voice of our democracy, we need transparent elections. Congress must pass this bill to keep politics local and to disclose corporate and union spending in election campaigns.
As a non-partisan organization, the LWV does not endorse candidates, but it does work to bring to the public's attention national, state, or local issues at stake in elections.
Not only is the LWV interested in the passage of the DISCLOSE ACT, but to make for an informed voter, the League brought tax expert, Professor Larry DeBoer, Department of Agricultural Economics from Purdue University to Greencastle to give the pros and cons of that proposed property tax Constitutional amendment.
Several local candidates were in attendance at the Putnam County Library, which WGRE FM at DePauw University broadcast live to a wider audience.
For more information about the Greencastle League of Women Voters access our web site at www.greencastlelwv.org.
Ann Kelly Newton
Greencastle League of Women Voters