Wednesday, August 16, 2006

An argument for Clean Elections: Chuck Gipp

I was reviewing financial reports this afternoon when I had reason to look over the last two financial reports of House Majority Leader Chuck Gipp.

I can't think of a better argument for clean elections. Gipp is opposed this year, but it's not a serious race: his opponent, Thomas Hansen, claims to have raised $249 for his campaign. Since May 19, Gipp has taken the following donations from PACs:

PACDonationsAmount% of total% of Opp.
Associated General Contractors of Iowa1$50009.63%2008%
Bankers Unite in Legislative Decisions1$50009.63%2008%
IHA PAC1$50009.63%2008%
Iowa Realtors PAC1$25004.82%1004%
Deere and Company PAC1$20003.85%803%
Meredith Corporation Employees Fund for Better Gov't1$15002.89%602%
Heavy Highway PAC1$10001.93402%
Iowa Industry PAC1$10001.93%402%
Iowa LawPAC2$10001.93%402%
Iowa Telecommunications Assoc PAC1$10001.93%402%
Monsanto citizenship Fund1$10001.93%402%
Waste Management Inc. Employees' Better Gov't Fund1$10001.93%402%
Iowa Cable PAC2$7501.44%301%
Citigroup Inc PAC1$5000.96%201%
Homebuilders Assoc PAC1$5000.96%201%
Iowa Optometric Assoc1$5000.96%201%
Iowa Veterinary Assoc1$5000.96%201%
Manufactured Housing PAC1$5000.96%201%
Medco Health Solutions PAC1$5000.96%201%
Principal Life Insurance PAC1$5000.96%201%
Roche Inc. Good Gov't Committee1$5000.96%201%
Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa PAC1$2500.48%100%
Iowa Friends of Rural Electrification1$2500.48%100%
Iowa Rural Water State PAC1$2500.48%100%
Iowa Chiropractic Society PAC1$2000.39%80%
Property Casual Insurers PAC1$1500.29%60%
Iowa Assoc. of Nurse Anesthetists PAC1$1000.19%40%
Verizon Iowa State Good Gov't PAC1$1000.19%40%
Iowa Insurance Institute PAC1$500.10%20%
Total30 PACs$33,60065%13494%

KEY: % of total = Percentage of Gipp's total donations from May 19-July 19 represented by that PAC.
% of Opp. = That donation as a percent of Gipp's opponent (Tom Hansen)'s fundraising total.

As you can see, 65% of Gipp's donations, or over $33,000 in two months, have come from PACs. Take a look at that list again. Would you be comfortable with all those groups influencing your legislator? I'm not.

Now, I'm not saying Tom Hansen would win if a Clean Elections Law was in place. What I am saying is this: The current system allows political action committees to give so much money to candidates that it scares potential serious challengers off the field.

Whether you agree with Gipp's politics or you don't, I think we can all agree that he and many others in his position don't deserve repeated free passes. The only way to allow challengers to compete with them is to pass a Clean Elections Law to level the playing field.



Anonymous said...

Compare that to Chetty's out of state/ PAC/Special interest money.

Rexusnexus said...

Unfortunately, such laws are unconstitutional. The best that can be hoped for are laws allowing candidates to voluntarily give up PAC contributions in favor of public funding.

KL Snow said...


Under the Clean Elections Law in Maine, candidates are allowed to swear off fundraising and receive public financing, or they can continue to raise money as they have.

the reason it would improve this case is this: if a non-clean elections candidate is running against a clean elections candidate and raises twice as much money, the state matches that total, insuring a candidate cannot simply fundraise his/her way to victory the way Gipp has.