Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ginny Burdick's one trick pony throws a shoe

The Ginny Burdick campaign for Portland City Council is essentially running a one trick pony: elect Ginny because she's not for Voter Owned Elections.

It's practically the only thing she talked about on Monday night during Candidates Gone Wild. She whined incessantly about using taxpayer dollars to fund election campaign. As if we're all supposed to be up in arms because the Gard and Gerber set might not get us to bend over anymore while they screw us sideways the old fashioned way.

Burdick's radio spots are especially grating (via The Oregonian):

Narrator, in stern tones and with ominous music playing in the background:

"Every time you hear an ad or read a political ad for Erik Sten for City Council, remember that your tax dollars paid for it under a new program sponsored by Sten himself and approved without a vote of the people.

Every time you hear an ad for Erik Sten, remember that the other incumbents on the City Council have all refused to take taxpayer money in their own elections.

Every time you hear an ad for Erik Sten, remember that the so-called clean money scheme sponsored by Sten is now called a 'circus' by the Oregonian and a 'scandal' by The Tribune

Every time you hear an ad for Erik Sten, remember that the money it costs could be paying for good schools, more police or helping the homeless.

The next time you hear and add for Erik Sten, if you find yourselves disappointed and disillusioned, remember we have a choice.

This message is paid for by the Friends of Ginny Burdick, not by your tax dollars."

Except that if we go back to the old system, we do pay for it with our tax dollars every time a bought and paid for councilperson (like the potential Burdick) pays off her campaign contributors with decisions at City Hall.

But Burdick's ad misleads in a more direct way, too.

Enter Charlie Burr, political consultant and activist.

Burr has filed a complaint with local broadcasters, demonstrating that Burdick is in fact using taxpayer dollars for her campaign. From the complaint:

As indicated, the final line of the ad states that the candidate is not using public funds for her campaign. This is simply not true or at best is seriously deceptive and misleading as the campaign organized and run by "Friends of Ginny Burdick" is, in fact, using tax dollars to pay for campaign expenditures such as the subject radio ad.

This fact was reported publicly in the February 8, 2006 edition of Willamette Week:

City Council candidate Ginny Burdick's opposition to publicly financed elections couldn't be clearer on her campaign website: "One thing distinguishing my campaign from that of my incumbent opponent is that I will not be taking taxpayer dollars." Yet Burdick's mailings for her run against Commissioner Erik Sten include a plea for—that's right—public financing of her campaign. "Political contributions up to $50 per person and $100 per couple may be refunded as a tax credit on your Oregon tax return," reads a reminder on Burdick's return envelope. The political-contribution tax credit, enacted in 1969, costs the state more than $5 million annually—about five times the expected cost of the city elections plan hatched by Sten.

Interestingly, when given the opportunity to deny Willamette Weeks report, the "Friends of Ginny Burdick" campaign manager simply stated that the "city program provides many more dollars per candidate."

In light of this misstatement of fact, we respectfully request that you remove from rotation the radio ad - in its present form.

I called the Burdick campaign yesterday afternoon to get their response to Burr's complaint. No one from the campaign returned my call.

The only problem with Voter Owned Elections is that it opens up the system to let new folks take a crack at getting elected. It limits contributions even for those not in the system (Dan Saltzman), it levels the playing field for new candidates and reduces spending in politics.

And apparently, VOE also weeds out folks who haven't got what it takes..