In Virginia, we have some of the laxest campaign finance laws in the nation. We place no limits on contributions, and we regulate a politician’s use of funds for personal items only when the campaign committee is closing. A friend mentioned to me that, unlike in Illinois or New Jersey, the reason we don’t have politicians going to jail for corruption in Virginia is that we simply don’t have the anti-corruption laws in the first place.
Why is this bad? The corporations with the most to lose from strong regulation and oversight only need to feather the nests of hopeful politicians to watch them thwart regulations to protect their constituents to those that will shield these benefactors from environmental, health and safety, or fiscally responsible legislation.
Some of the Commonwealth’s largest industrial leaders — Altria, Dominion Energy, Virginia Bankers Association— donate huge sums of cash each year to General Assembly members to ensure their candidates of choice are elected. This affects priorities on everything from climate change to criminal justice reform (private prisons) to health care. And corporations don’t need to worry about influencing votes because legislation detrimental to their interests never even makes it to the floor. Year after year, legislators introduce reforms only to have them tabled, sent to study or never discussed at all.
We must not allow corporations to manipulate our political debate through campaign financing.
I will work to pass effective campaign finance reform and will not take campaign contributions from any for-profit corporation.