On 848  yesterday, Dan Newman of Maplight.org  argues that pay-to-play politics extends beyond specific dealmaking and even infects reform legislation in Illinois — with 80 percent of Illinois legislators getting contributions from the payday lending industry, the Pay Day Loan Reform Act of 2005 still allows interest rates as high as 400 percent.
Then Richard Steele turned the discussion to public financing of elections — and if Pat Quinn becomes governor and really wants to clean things up, he could look at laws now in place in Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut, which give legislators the option of refusing special interest money.
Newman talks about Connecticut, which just had its first election under this system, and 80 percent of the new legislature was elected with no special-interest funding. “That means the legislature in Connecticut can make decisions based on what their constituents want without thinking about, oh how am I going to raise the money I need to be reelected.
“I mean think about how nuts it is that the legislators, we pay their salaries, we pay for money to run the election, we the public, and we pay our taxes and give it to our legislators to spend, and yet we make these people grovel before the PACs and special interest groups…. We as citizens are really handing over too much power to these special interests.”
In Connecticut elections are financed from proceeds from unclaimed property. Newman points to the $700 billion financial bailout — the result at least in part of lack of government regulation stemming from undue influence by the securities industry — as an example of the cost of corruption that a public financing system would save taxpayers.