We need more transparency in WV elections, not more money.
Despite the way practically every West Virginia voter, regardless of their party affiliation, feels about the state of our politics and money’s role in it, West Virginia politicians charged ahead with SB 622 — the bill no one asked for. No one except wealthy special interests of course.
SB 622 dramatically increases the amount an individual can give to a candidates, political action committees and political parties. Yet most West Virginians can’t afford to give $1,000 to their favorite candidates, let alone the new, nearly tripled upper limit of $2,800. So it’s worth asking: Who wants these higher limits?
That is simple enough to answer: on one hand, politicians who would rather attend ritzy behind-closed-doors big-money fundraisers than actually knock on doors and raise money from regular West Virginians. The other big beneficiary? The wealthiest few who can afford to donate more than $1,000 to a state candidate in both the primary and general election (would be raised to $2,800 for each) and the big-money special interests who can afford to give state party caucuses more than $1,000 (would be raised to $10,000 per calendar year) and Political Action Committees (PACs) more than $1,000 in both the primary and general election (would be raised to $5,000 for each).
We want our elected officials to listen to us, the people — not wealthy special interests. SB 622 goes against this will. What is more, we deserve to know who is trying to influence our representatives and their votes with their big-money donations. That is why it is especially egregious that Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate rejected an amendment that would have closed loopholes in our laws that allow groups that spend money on political ads to hide the identity of their donors.
We have contribution limits to prevent corruption, but the other important function of contribution limits is to ensure that all West Virginians, no matter how much they make, have an equal voice and equal representation with their state elected officials.
SB 622 violates this fundamental principle of fairness by giving a greater voice to the wealthy and special interests that try to buy our elections, and that’s wrong!
*Special thanks to Selina Vickers, a volunteer citizen advocate that cares about fairness and democracy and the WV Working Families Party for initiating this letter campaign.