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Letter to the Editor: Free Speech for Sale at GSBLRA/Chamber Forum

Santa Barbara council candidate refuses campaign contributions, saying it's in the best interest of our society

It was a surprise to me that the Greater Santa Barbara Lodging & Restaurant Association and the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce would exclude anyone who hasn’t raised at least $5,000 in campaign contributions from their forum on Sept. 9. I ask them to reconsider.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a speech in 1996 comparing campaign contributions to “bribes” and questioning whether elected candidates could pretend they were “representing only the general public good, when private money plays such a large role” in helping them win office.

“If they cannot, the public must demand a change in the role of private money or find other ways, such as through strict, well-enforced regulation, to ensure that politicians are not inappropriately influenced in their legislative or executive decision-making by the interests that give them contributions,” she said.

That has been my reason for refusing campaign contributions, as I think that everyone could have interests before the city, whether it be permits or code infractions. As far as I know, I am the only candidate for Santa Barbara City Council not taking campaign contributions, which means I will not stuff mailboxes with junk mail or leave litter on doorsteps. If we can’t have a City Council campaign in the small community of Santa Barbara without spending tens of thousands of dollars and producing tons of litter, democracy is truly compromised.

Currently, health-care reform is being held hostage by special interests who operate through campaign contributions and lobbying. Additionally, we find ourselves endlessly bailing out financial institutions because of the power of the financial lobbies and are involved in endless wars because of the military industrial congressional complex. The lobbying is generally a process that only reminds the politician of the campaign contributions, so contributions are the primary problem with our democracy.

Although I understand the reality of politics and money — First Amendment rights in the political process are in direct proportion to the money solicited — it is not the right thing for our society. If we are ever to change it, it will be in local elections in a small community such as ours. For this reason, I ask for the endorsement of the Lodging & Restaurant Association and the Chamber of Commerce without contribution, based solely on the fact that I am the only City Council candidate who is not accepting campaign contributions (I have been offered some).

It is in the best interest of restaurants, hotels and our society as a whole to restore our democracy.

Lane Anderson
Santa Barbara City Council candidate

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