Friday, September 01, 2006

Pawlenty won't take public campaign subsidies

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:26 PM |  

The Pioneer Press reports Gov. Tim Pawlenty today announced he would not accept state subsidies for his campaign and the spending limits that go with them. Was this a principle-based decision?
Pawlenty campaign manager Michael Krueger said the Republican governor needs to spend more than the limit to defend himself from anticipated attacks from Democratic-affiliated political organizations.

"We have no choice but to forego public financing to fight for our agenda of holding government accountable," Krueger said in an e-mail to news organizations.
Does that mean that if Pawlenty had a choice, he would have taken public campaign subsidies?

Make no mistake, I think Pawlenty made the right decision, but once again he fails to seize an opportunity to make a principled point. Public subsidies and campaign finance laws are simply bad ideas. The rationale that campaign finance laws promote more democratic participation in the election process is admirable in theory, but as the rise of PACs supports, it is impractical in application.

The broader the scope of government power, the more people vying for a piece of that power. As long as investment in government provides a good return, money will find a way into elections. End limits and require full disclosure. It’s simple and people can decide for themselves if politicians are being supported for what they believe or “believing” what brings in the bucks.

I say that. I wish Pawlenty had.