This article originally provided by The Herald-Dispatch

September 20, 2006

Voice of the people

Why won't Sobonya back clean elections?

After being questioned about taking a $1,000 campaign contribution from Don Blankenship, Massey Energy's millionaire CEO, Delegate Kelli Sobonya stated "you have to run a campaign and have contributions."

How true. What Ms. Sobonya didn't say is that she has refused to support a Clean Elections bill that would give a candidate the choice of either taking campaign contributions from special interests or accepting money from a Clean Elections fund, i.e. public funding. This Clean Elections law is already working very well in seven states and several cities.

Candidates who opt for public funding agree to limit spending, take no private contributions and receive a competitive amount of money for their campaigns. Provisions in the proposed bill would give a candidate matching funds if his or her competition outspends him or her.

Last session, Treasurer John Perdue pledged that he would provide $1 million from the unclaimed property fund to help fund Clean Elections, so initially Clean Elections won't cost the taxpayers any money. Even without that funding, West Virginians would only pay around $4 to $5 a year to support this innovative system. That seems like a small price to pay considering the undue influence of coal and other special interest groups over our lawmakers.

Why doesn't Sobonya give the money back, like candidates Tommy Smirl and Tom Scott, rather than conduct a campaign under a cloud? And why doesn't she support Clean Elections, giving her and other candidates a clear way to run a campaign free of special interest influence?

Winnie Fox

Voter-Owned Elections

Citizens for Clean Elections P.O. Box 6753 Huntington, WV 25773-6753 304-522-0246