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					                                    Gail Buckner
                                  For Georgia Secretary of State


         The Buckner Plan for Clean and Fair Elections

              “The reform that makes other reforms finally possible”
                                                 ― Bill Moyers
1. Introduction

Georgia citizens—not special interest groups--deserve to be the key players in the election of our
government officials. Georgia needs elections that are free of special interest money that
compromises the integrity of our democratic process. Our system is broken but not beyond
repair. Gail Buckner has championed electoral reform over her 16 years in the Georgia House of
Representatives and will continue to push an aggressive reform platform that will actually
diminish the clout of special interests in Georgia elections.

 “The need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if Congress provided an
 appropriation for the proper and legitimate expenses of each of the great parties, an
 appropriation ample enough to meet the necessity for thorough organization and machinery,
 which requires a large expenditure of money.” ― President Theodore Roosevelt


2. The Problem

In 2004, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, 90 percent of Georgia’s
legislative and statewide contests were decided by money. In the House, the average amount
raised by a winner was $62,618, whereas the average loser raised $27,459. In the Senate,
winners averaged $166,620 while losers raised $56,177. Over $53 million was raised in all,
which translates into $11.85 raised per voter. Roughly, 90 percent of all contributions were
donated by special interest groups and wealthy individuals. The remaining 10 percent originated
from parties and the candidates themselves. (See appendix in section 7 more statistics)

What kind of message does this send? If you’re not rich or well connected then you’re not
qualified to run for office? Or, if you don’t have the time for your 9-5 job, office and constituent
obligations, in addition to fund raising (assuming you don’t have a family and social life) then
you’re plum out of luck? Is that how it is? It’s no wonder that voters are apathetic.


 "For years, special interests and big money have had a negative influence on our local, state
 and national elections. Clean Elections changes that. In 1998, you voted for the Clean
 Elections Act and restored voter confidence in the electoral process. Clean Elections works
 well to overcome the influence of special interests. It gives Arizonans the power to create good
 government. Keep supporting Clean Elections”. ― Senator John McCain, R-Arizona
3. About the proposal
The Georgia Clean and Fair Elections Act is two fold. First, it will establish the Clean Campaign
Commission to oversee a “clean” funding alternative to the special interest system that facilitates
corruption and government waste. Second, it will create the Georgia Democracy Endowment to
serve as the source of clean funding. Inspired by measures in Arizona and Maine, the Clean and
Fair Elections Act is an innovative campaign finance reform movement that offers public
funding of campaigns for qualified candidates who wish to run for statewide and legislative
offices. Clean funding is an alternate approach to political fundraising and not a replacement of
the current system; therefore, running “clean” is strictly optional.

Clean and Fair Elections does many things. It stimulates broader citizen participation in the
political process while diminishing the role of lobbyists and special interests. It also combats the
specter of corruption, ensures judicial impartiality, reduces the time candidates and office holders
spend on fundraising, levels the playing field between opposing candidates, and increases the
number and diversity of qualified candidates. But more importantly, it enables registered voters
to support their preferred candidates through affordable contributions in addition to encouraging
more candidate interaction with low and moderate income communities. In effect, Clean
Elections institutionalizes grassroots populism while serving as the impetus for wholesale
reform.

 “[Public financing is] the difference between being able to go out and spend your time talking
 with voters, meeting with groups, …. traveling to communities that have been under-
 represented in the past, as opposed to being on the phone selling tickets to a $250 a plate
 fundraiser….” ― Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D)


4. Ten Reasons for Clean Elections

I. Clean Elections Increases Competition by Leveling the Fundraising Playing Field
Under the current system, incumbent office holders build massive war chests that effectively
discourage competition. Most campaign contributors view their donations to sitting officials as
wise investments that ensure future access to elected decision-makers. On the other hand, a
contribution to a challenger, however bright and innovative he or she may be, is a gamble – a
risky venture wrought with doubt and uncertainties. Clean Elections reduces the fundraising
advantages shared by complacent incumbents and networking dynamos, thereby increasing
competition and injecting more vibrancy, creativity and diverse thinking into what can be a
stagnated system that oozes token ideas and mediocre solutions.

II. Clean Elections is a Remedy for Voter Apathy
You know Reagan once said the second oldest profession often resembles the first. That was an
astute observation, a quality shared by young adults. Young people as well some adults see the
money changing, the gutter wars, the circus acts, and the acidic climate and are rightfully
repulsed – that is until their youthful idealism begins to wane. These perceived and often real
malignancies simmer within the disenfranchised and help fan the flames of voter apathy. But it
wouldn’t be fair to assign all the blame to politicians. Politicians may be complicit, but the real
culprit is campaign finance. And as long as political campaigns cost a small fortune candidates
will not go out of their way to court young voters because the costs outweigh the benefits. Clean
Elections would change that and allow for more experimentation in reaching out to
disenfranchised voters.

III. Clean Elections Controls the Escalating Costs of Campaigns
The business community wishes to compete in the marketplace, not in a political contributions
arms race. According to a national survey conducted by the Clean Elections Institute, 78% of
business executives agree that the traditional campaign finance system is out of control and that
they are pressured to increase campaign contributions. A majority of business executives fear
they will suffer adverse consequences if they turn down requests for campaign contributions
from high-ranking political leaders. Candidates who run clean aren't allowed to spend any
private contributions for their campaigns at all, freeing business leaders from the mad dash for
campaign cash.


 “I think the public has reached a new covenant with its elected officials… The question
 shouldn’t be how you can afford to do this, but how can you afford not to.”
 ― Mark Spitzer (R), Chairman of the Arizona’s Corporation Commission

IV. Clean Elections Provides Budget Insurance
Year after year, millions of dollars are squandered on sweetheart deals, pork projects, and
expensive court battles to defend flawed legislative gimmicks. In the 2006 legislative session,
over $300 million in pork spending was inserted in the state’s general fund. Clean Money would
ensure that public and tax policy is not influenced by large contributors and political warfare.
That's cheap budget insurance. It’s the perfect elixir for treating the undue influence of money on
politics and restoring voters' faith in state government.

V. Clean Elections Increases Voter Turn-Out
This process has already proven successful in Arizona and Maine. After implementation, voter
turn-out in Arizona increased by 27 percent and rose 19 percent in Maine. Moreover, both states
experienced a substantial increase in the number of qualified candidates. The beauty of Clean
and Fair Elections legislation is that voters can choose between “clean” candidates and
traditional candidates supported by private money and special interests.

VI. Clean Elections Increases the Number and Diversity of Candidates
In Arizona’s 2002 elections, the number of Native Americans and Latino candidates nearly
tripled from the previous cycle. In 2000, 13 such hopefuls competed in both primaries (10 were
cleanly financed), while 37 Native American and Latino candidates ran in 2002 (21 were ran
popular). Obviously, the populist nature of Clean Elections encourages a greater number and
diversity of candidates to run for public office. This not only enhances voter options but it
motivates the disenfranchised and renews the democratic institutions of government.

VII. Clean Elections Encourages Candidate Interaction in Under-Represented Communities
In relieving the pressures of fundraising, Clean Elections encourages greater interaction with all
voters regardless of influence and personal wealth. The emphasis that clean funding places on
smaller more numerous contributions enhances the clout of modest and middle income voters.
Under-represented communities are bolstered under political systems in which their votes and
small contributions carry as much weight as the offerings by affluent donors. It can be said that
Clean Elections provides a collection plate approach to campaign financing.

VIII. Clean Elections Provide Autonomy for Office Holders
Current finance methods consume most of the time spent on political campaigns. However
reduced, those efforts don’t end when victory is realized. Elected officials often capitalize on
their public status by raising funds for future campaigns from lobbyists and special interests that
solicit business and favors from government. Besides the time diverted from constituents and
official responsibilities, this reality of public service can be a deal-breaker for promising leaders
and is especially burdensome for part-time legislators who often have families and hold full-time
jobs. The contribution limits imposed by clean funding are readily met, allowing hopefuls and
office holders to shift their focus to grassroots campaigning and accomplishing stated goals.

IX. Clean Elections Combats the Appearance of Corruption, Restoring Trust in Government
and Business Partnerships
Our current campaign finance system makes the public believe that government policies are open
to the highest bidder. This widespread perception has eroded public confidence in government as
well as business. A voluntary system of full public funding of election campaigns would end that
perception by providing a fair and proven alternative to the way election campaigns are financed.

Clean Elections requires participating candidates to refuse private contributions. For example, a
candidate for insurance commissioner would not be allowed to accept campaign contributions
from insurance companies. A candidate for Public Service Commission could not accept funds
from a regulated industry and so on. In this way, clean funding directly advances a government’s
compelling interest in avoiding corruption or the appearance there of.

X. Clean Elections Protects Integrity of the Court System
The integrity and of the court system depends on the ability of judges to decide cases fairly –
based on facts and law, not on political pressure applied by private donors and special interest. In
most states as in Georgia, Supreme and Appellate Court judges are elected statewide, and like
any other statewide office the campaign trail to victory is paved with substantial funding – most
often provided by law firms and corporate entities. The Constitution much less common sense
dictates that judges render fair, impartial and independent decisions. A clean funding would
eliminate the need for judges to raise money from people with business before the court, and in
this way, diminishes any real or perceived conflicts of interest.

In two national surveys conducted by Greenberg Quinian Rosner Research and American
Viewpoint, both American voters and judges expressed deep concern about how we select judges
and how it affects fair and impartial courts.

      76% of voters believe that campaign contributions made to judges have an impact on
       their decisions
      67% of voters feel that individuals or groups who have given money to judicial
       candidates often get favorable treatment
      84% of judges express concerns about special interest groups influencing judicial
       elections

 “Money in [judicial] elections presents us with a tremendous challenge, a tremendous problem
 if we are remiss and don’t at once address and correct it.” ― U.S. Supreme Court Justice
 Anthony Kennedy


4. How it works and how it has fared elsewhere
In Arizona, clean funding originates from several sources including a voluntary check-off box on
state income tax forms. In 2001, 650,000 Arizonans donated more than $14 million to the fund
administered by the Clean Campaign Commission. Maine on the other hand, appropriates a
specified amount directly from their general fund.

Twenty-three other states and twelve cities including Los Angeles, Miami and New York City
have followed suit and operate hybrids of the Clean Elections system. While there are various
versions of Clean Elections, it is interesting to note that in Arizona the maximum campaign
donation is $100 before qualification and $5 during the qualification period. In Georgia,
individual caps for statewide races are set at $5,000.

As a testament to this process, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano was cleanly elected to her
statewide office. She has stated, “When I ran for Attorney General in 1998, I sat in my office for
five or six hours a day asking people for money, which I despised.” Her campaign for governor
in 2002 was vastly different. She collected 6,000 citizen donations of $5 and was still elected
statewide. Last year, TIME rated her one of the five best governors in the nation. She was also
rumored to be a possible Vice Presidential nominee.

In both states, the percentage of people running as participating candidates rather than as
traditional candidates has increased every election cycle. In 2000, only 26% of Arizona’s
primary candidates ran with clean funding. The number of candidates jumped in 2002 to 56%
and increased once again in 2004 to 61%. The Maine version also had its maiden run in 2000,
with half the State Senate and 30% of State House members being elected without any special
interest money. In 2002, those numbers rose to 77% of the Senate and 55% of the House.
Clearly, Clean Elections is working because non-participants are finding themselves marked with
the scarlet letter of special interest.


 “With the Clean Elections, it seemed less daunting a task to run. I could do what I can do,
 which is talk to people, as opposed to raising money, which in my life, I didn’t have any
 experience in.” ― Maine State Representative Deborah Simpson (D), Single mother juggling
 night school and a waitressing job before winning public office.
5. Clean funding

Seed Money
Under the Georgia Clean Elections Act, legislative and statewide candidates who choose to run
“clean” would be allowed to invest as much as $1,000 in their own campaign and collect up to a
certain amount of $100 seed contributions from voters registered in the state of Georgia during
what is known as an exploratory period. The exploratory period would begin the day after a
general election and expire January 1 of the next election cycle. For example, November 8, 2006
to January 1, 2008 would be designated an exploratory period. January 1 to the qualifying
deadline in late April would be designated as the qualifying period.

Qualifying Contributions
From the official start of qualifying to end, participating candidates would be required to collect
a set number of $5 contributions from voters to prove he or she is not a fringe candidate. For
example, a gubernatorial candidate would have to collect 3,500 $5 donations before he or she
could qualify (2,000 for other statewide candidates and 250 for legislative). If a “clean”
candidate is out funded by a non-participating opponent then the “clean” participant would be
provided matching funds, up to a certain amount, by the Clean Campaign Commission. In
addition to seed and qualifying contributions, clean funding would originate from a clean
funding endowment.

Georgia Democracy Endowment
The Endowment will be designed to operate like a university endowment. Individuals,
corporations, lobbying firms, political action committees, and other business entities wishing to
contribute to the political process would receive a 100% tax deduction for contributions to the
endowment.

Also, citizens filing state income tax returns will have the option of designating a $5 donation to
the fund by marking a check-off box on their forms. Contributing Georgia tax payers will receive
a $5 (or $10 if filing jointly) deduction, which will be redirected to the fund. Taxpayers will be
allowed to redirect up to 20 percent (or $500 whichever is greater) of taxes owed to the fund.

Eventually interest generated by the fund will be enough to fund campaigns of participating
candidates. Until then, supplemental revenue sources will be directed to reinforce the
Endowment. Those revenue streams will originate from the following:

       10% surcharge on criminal fines originating from fraud and identification theft
       Ethics fines incurred by candidates and elected official as well as fines incurred by
        candidates and officials who violate rules governing Clean Elections program
       Revenue from prestige license plates – including new, special designs. One will be
        dominated by the state flag (with digits running across white stripe). The second will
        feature the state’s crest. Many states have crests, in addition their seals, which reflect
        their own unique culture and history. Georgia currently does not, but if elected I will
        commission a statewide contest and challenge Georgians to submit their own designs.
       Tax amnesty program – Tax amnesty programs waive penalties and criminal sanctions
        for the non-reporting or underreporting of tax liabilities. In 1992, Georgia offered a tax
        amnesty program for all tax sources, which generated $51 million in tax payments.
       10% surcharge on non-competitive bid for state contracts – Georgia enters a wide
        array of contracts based for the provision of goods and services. More and more of these
        contracts are not put out for competitive bid. Given the potential conflict of interest
        inherent in non-competitive contracts and the periodic questions raised or scandals
        caused by the practice, a surcharge imposed on non-competitive bids would certainly be
        appropriate.

* Under the Clean and Fair Elections Act, 20 percent of funds collected will be earmarked for
enforcement and voter education programs, which will include publishing candidate profile
brochures for registered voters.

6. Conclusion

There are many ways to approach Clean Elections in Georgia and Buckner plans to seek input
and expert advice from many stakeholders before implementing new rules and regulations. She
will work with the Clean Campaign Commission, the State Ethics Commissions, our next
governor and General Assembly members to devise and implement the best reforms for our state.

The immediate goal of Buckner’s reform plan is to cultivate a legislative consensus on an
enabling bill so it can be put before the voters in a November 2008 referendum. Citizens will
know the full scope of what’s involved in severing the ball and chain of special interest money
and will have the opportunity to cast their ballot for change. Under Buckner’s steady and
progressive leadership, average Georgians will reclaim their rightful place at the table.

Our state government exists to serve the people of Georgia—not the special interests. Gail
Buckner’s approach to campaign finance reform, utilizing the Clean Elections model, will bring
an end to the era of ordinary people being shut out of our democratic process. Instead, as
Secretary of State, Gail Buckner and her dedication to clean and fair campaigns will usher in an
era of unparalleled influence for hard-working Georgians across the state.

* All statistical information regarding Arizona and Maine originated from each state’s Clean
Elections state websites
7. Appendix (figures provided by the National Institute on Money in State Politics at
www.followthemoney.org)

           Average Dollars Raised for Georgia House Races
                                                              Open
Cycle     Winners    Losers     Incumbents    Challengers     Seat
 1996     $25,539   $14,458        $25,164        $11,892     $18,090
 1998     $37,375   $20,234        $37,196        $13,642     $32,180
 2000     $36,307   $30,411        $37,092        $20,955     $29,239
 2002     $50,714   $31,996        $54,250        $33,684     $25,355
 2004     $62,618   $27,459        $63,882        $25,256     $29,870


           Average Dollars Raised for Georgia Senate Races
                                                              Open
Cycle     Winners    Losers     Incumbents    Challengers     Seat
 1996    $66,821    $16,150        $64,176        $16,448     $30,941
 1998    $95,318    $29,943        $97,284        $21,614     $46,779
 2000    $86,991    $56,162        $88,952        $34,867     $46,108
 2002   $129,938    $75,374       $123,971        $47,461     $89,313
 2004   $166,620    $56,177       $161,741        $42,153     $77,868


     Average Raised by Statewide Candidates in 2002
       Office             Winners         Losers
Governor                   $5,156,636         $3,606,801
Judicial                    $112,739             $15,091
Other Statewide             $823,441           $124,996
     Average Raised by Statewide Candidates in 1998
       Office             Winners         Losers
Governor                   $8,225,972         $2,602,493
Judicial                           $0                 $0
Other Statewide             $683,212           $153,939


               Average Raised by Legislative Candidates in 2004
                                                                         Open
 State House    Winners       Losers   Incumbents      Challengers       Seat
Georgia          $67,618   $27,459           $63,882        $25,256      $29,870
Arizona          $34,857   $24,397           $32,987        $25,593      $28,410
Maine             $5,709    $5,180            $5,284             $0       $4,316
State                                                                   Open
Senate         Winners     Losers      Incumbents      Challengers      Seat
Georgia        $166,620    $56,177        $161,741         $42,153       $77,868
Arizona         $42,382    $26,239         $44,028         $27,091       $49,522
Maine           $25,215    $28,411         $24,261              $0       $21,790

				
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