Vail Valley Voices: Candidate for Congress pledges to fight corruption
August 28, 2010
I received numerous calls from MoveOn.org members requesting I sign their “Fight Washington Corruption” (http://tinyurl.com/26cxqqu) pledge. Because I am committed to fighting corruption in our federal government, I cannot sign this pledge.
Three planks compose the pledge:
1. Overturn Citizens United:
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling upholds the 1st Amendment, which states: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” This is an absolute, unconditional statement. An exception would have been incorporated had any been desired. Campaign finance laws restrict freedom of speech.
I am a proud supporter of the 1st Amendment. Freedom of speech is the foundation of civil society. It ensures that we can peacefully advocate the veracity of our ideas. I will never support any infringement of our 1st Amendment rights.
2. Fair Elections Now: This plank advocates public financing of all campaigns, not fair elections. If Washington is corrupt, why would we put them in charge of financing campaigns? If the two-party system discriminates against minor parties, wait until D.C. controls campaign funding! What’s worse than a two-party system? A one-party system!
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It is immoral to force someone to financially support a candidate advocating positions diametrically opposed to his own. I’m running against an incumbent worth over $150 million. Polis has spent millions to effectively buy his elections and greatly influence other elections.
However, I fully support his right to spend his money in any way he chooses including to advocate for or against any candidate or issue. However, he should do it openly and honestly.
The ability of a candidate to raise money is an indicator of his ability to attract and win votes. Fundraising is earned and not a right granted by a bureaucrat in D.C.
3. Lobbyist Reform Act:This is a multi-headed hydra that includes prohibiting individuals from switching between corporate lobbying and government service; disallow gift giving such as free travel by corporate lobbyists; and posting names of attendees and contents of all meetings between lobbyists and government officials. It is interesting to note that the first two restrictions under this plank apply only to corporate lobbyists. Lobbyists from non-profits such as MoveOn.org would not be exempt.
Lobbying our government is a protected right under the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law …, abridging … the right of the people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Infringing this right empowers the government to prohibit us, the people, from lobbying to end corrupt practices!
The source of corruption is power. To limit corruption, the power of politicians and bureaucrats must be limited. Our founders achieved this goal with the Constitution, which limited and placed checks and balances on the power of Congress, the president, and the judiciary.
As Thomas Jefferson warned, eternal vigilance is necessary to prevent corruption. As long as government has monopoly use of force (which is necessary to prevent anarchy), then unscrupulous individuals will try to use that power to their benefit.
We have failed to be vigilant. Our Congress is out of control because it has become a nest of unscrupulous, power-hungry politicians exploiting greed to destroy unity by pitting one group against another as politicians freely traded our inalienable rights for their power-lust or financial benefit.
If our government has the power to pick winners (AIG, UAW) and losers (Lehman Brothers, GM bond holders), then our government has power over our economic life or death. If the government has power over what medical services and treatments are authorized, then it has power over our individual life or death.
When a vote in Congress can determine life or death — a multi-billion dollar tax saving or access to a cancer treatment — then you can bet your life people will spend millions of dollars to influence that decision!
If power is the source of corruption, then what motivates a candidate that signs the deceptively named “Fight Washington Corruption” pledge? If we grant more power to those accused of being corrupt, what outcome should we expect?
Stephen Bailey is the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives district serving Eagle County.