Political campaign related financing has long been a subject of hot debate. Many claim that financing tends to be inconsistent across states and, some would say, even across candidates. In fact, Jimmy Carter, former United States president and beloved figure, recently gained media attention for his statements on how political financing often equates to, to use his words, “legalized bribery” and what a serious and problematic issue this is. And, while many states are either ignoring the problem or struggling with how to handle it, Idaho is one of the first to attempt to take action against it.
A legislative panel in the state has come up with a measure that it thinks could help to put an end, or at least take a step toward putting an end, to many of the financing issues that people have voiced concerns about. Under the proposed measure, which has been a topic of hot debate since it was introduced, all Idaho state candidates would be required to file highly detailed campaign finance reports, as would any and all people involved in pushing ballot initiatives.
If passed, this measure obviously wouldn’t end campaign financing issues across the nation, but it certainly could have an impact in Idaho. The measure would more than likely be successful, which has some people scared stiff and others rejoicing.
While many people are speculating about what the exact goals of the measure are- some are convinced that it’s to put an end to “money driven” campaigns in which candidates with the most money have the most likely chance at success- Republican Senator Mary Souza explains it quite simply. According to her, the aim of the proposal is simply to improve the consistency of campaign financing support in a variety of ways, mainly by holding all those involved to the same standards. Of course, her involvement has led many to believe it’s a Republican-fueled, and thus a Republican-beneficial, measure, but Souza and others in power claim that’s not the case.
Those backing the measure claim that it was brought about by the fact that some candidates are not required to report their campaign finances at all, which many people find frightening and understandably problematic. Currently, city bond elections, public action committees, school board trustee elections, and ballot measures in districts made up of fewer than 500 people are not required to undergo any kind of campaign financing reporting.
While Souza has been careful in choosing her words when talking about the measure, she did make clear recently what many have long suspected. When speaking with the Senate State Affairs Committee, she, in line with Carter’s earlier statements, said that through making the details of campaign financing more transparent, it will be easier to see who is influencing or, at the very least, attempting to influence voters, and in what ways.
Regardless of how one feels about the measure, it is still up in the air. Before it can even make its way to the current governor’s desk, it will have to pass through the committee and receive support from both chambers. If it does pass, though, many are speculating other states may soon follow suit.