My recent op-ed in the N&O regarding welfare for politicians…err public campaign financing inspired two letters to the editor in today’s paper.
First up is Chris Heagarty, Executive Director of the NC Center for Voter Education, who tries to counter my "distortions" with some misleading statements of his own. His first beef is with my claim that under this system subsidized candidates would "forgo nearly all private fundraising," a claim he calls "not true."
But check this out from Heagarty’s own website:
After a candidate achieves a predetermined threshold of support, he or she agrees to stop fund raising and finances the campaign entirely through public funds, instead of special interest cash.(emphasis added)
His letter attempts to claim that in order to qualify, the subsidized candidates would first need to "raise a reasonable amount of private money (up to $200,000 if they have a primary, $100,000 if they do not)." So he tries to establish a fact with an admittedly opinion-based phrase such as "reasonable amount of money." Furthermore, he intentionally tries to mislead by stating the maximum amount of qualifying funds allowed. What he leaves out is that all a candidate really needs is roughly $26,000 in private donations to qualify – a number that seems to stretch even his definition of "reasonable."
Other points he tries to make is that I misquote him, even though my quote is directly from his article. He also tries to belittle my claim that many are unhappy with this system in Arizona, disputing any notion that it could be viewed as a "failure." I guess we must question his definition of a successful program. After all, he is the one that labeled the 2006 judicial elections as the "year of the 527" while also claiming it as a success (from his website):
Currently there are bills before the state legislature to build on the success of North Carolina’s voter-owned judicial elections.(emphasis added)
Not to be outdone, Sol Rabinowitz piles on with this letter. The one thing both letters do have in common is that they simply can not help themselves in taking personal swipes at me and my organization. Rabinowitz asks:
Is Balfour, who quotes Thomas Jefferson in closing, really interested in democracy or in maintaining the status quo for the big money interests that have had undue influence on elections for too long?
To answer your question, I am interested in democracy – that’s why I chose this profession. No matter how hard I try, I cannot fathom how a system that would trample on our freedom of speech can be squared with any notion of democracy.
Furthermore, Heagarty closes with this petty comment:
It underscores the obvious lack of credibility of an organization funded by big political money.
His comment raises the question, who are you funded by Chris? Why don’t your public tax records reveal where your organization gets its funding? Could it be that you are funded by "big political money?"