December 11, 2003
Statement of Antonio Gonzalez, President, William C. Velasquez
In the Color of Money project, we see how Latinos and other
racial/ethnic minorities are systematically excluded from the
political system, simply because they are less likely to be able
to afford to give the campaign contributions that are the mothers
milk of American politics.
When a small, wealthy group of donors
in effect decides which candidates will have enough money to
run a viable campaign, it
is no great surprise to see that the agenda of policymakers
is skewed toward their interests rather than those of people
In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen an energy bill
that would award more than $20 billion in tax breaks to the oil,
and nuclear industries—a tidy payback for over $71.8 million
in campaign contributions they’ve made since 1999. We’ve
also seen a Medicare bill that is estimated to award the pharmaceutical
industry, already the world’s most profitable, with $139
billion in increased profits because it explicitly rules out
government efforts to negotiate lower drug prices.
the U.S. share a common experience of political, economic and
social exclusion. They are at the bottom among major American
racial and ethnic groups in terms of educational attainment,
per capita income, access to health care, and homeownership,
whereas they are first or second in rates of incarceration,
teen pregnancy and military service.
This country has always offered
an answer for the underserved: Get involved. Vote. Make your
voice heard. And Latinos have headed
that call. Today we represent the fastest growing group in
terms of registration and voting. In the 2004 elections Latinos
likely to reach the goal of 10 million registered voters for
the first time in American history.
But the Latino community’s
voices would be amplified if we had comprehensive campaign finance
reform. Clean Money campaign
reform evens the playing field, by reducing the importance of
private money donations in elections. Candidates who agree to
abide by spending limits and meet tough qualifying conditions,
raising a large number of very small contributions from in-district
voters, receive equal public grants of money to run their campaign.
This makes it possible for a candidate to run a viable campaign
for office without having to rely on wealthy donors.
Clean Money campaign reform would not solve all the problems
of the Latino electorate, but it would help make the system
more inclusive and more responsive to their needs.
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