Rethinking Campaign Finance

• May 16, 2014

The New York Times By: Joe Nocera

In 2006, shortly after being elected to Congress — indeed, as he recalls it, before he had even taken his oath of office — John Sarbanes was approached by several Washington lobbyists. “They offered to do a fund-raiser for me,” he said. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to start down this road.’ ” So he put the lobbyists off.

Still, it got Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland (and the eldest son of the state’s former senator, Paul Sarbanes) thinking — obsessing, really — about the role of money in politics. As he spent more time in Congress, he watched the insidious influence of money. “There is a lot of discussion about how money is targeting elections, but what tends to be neglected is the influence on the governing that takes place afterwards,” he told me the other day. “I may raise enough to beat back a super-PAC, but what dependencies does that create?

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