by Jonathan Singer, Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 01:05:08 PM EST
Earlier this month, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd began circulating proposed legislation that would enable public financing for federal elections, and it looks like they are starting to get some takers -- even from the other side of the aisle. The Hill's Elana Schor has the story.
Sen. George Voinovich, Ethics Committee chairman and a sometime gadfly to Republican leadership, is warming to Democratic-backed proposals for public financing of federal elections.
Voinovich (R-Ohio) told The Hill that he has met with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) to discuss collaboration on the public-financing pitch Durbin is crafting with Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), the Rules Committee's ranking Democrat. Snagging the endorsement of Voinovich, who last year bucked his party by opposing the confirmation of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and has so far taken a supporting role in the GOP's push for lobbying reform, could give the public-financing concept considerable momentum.
"Maybe it is the answer," Voinovich said. "Too much of our time is spent raising money, time spent campaigning, time buying TV ads. When everyone's out there trying to raise money, dialing for dollars ... until we deal with this issue you're going to continue to have problems."
It's quite possible that Voinovich is openly flirting with the Durbin-Dodd bill to provide cover from his own ethics issues; as Governor, Voinovich maintained ties with con artist-cum-Republican insider Tim Noe, and at least one former Voinovich aide is in potential legal trouble on charges related to illegal money in politics. Maybe Voinovich never jumps on the plan at all. But if he does, he could provide cover for any other Republicans on the fence on the issue, as the moment a bill becomes bipartisan, it often gains an inertia and momentum it did not previously possess. If you're an Ohioan who would like to see some of the corrupt money out of politics, give Voinovich a call in Washington at (202) 224-3353 or to one of his offices and let him know that you want him to follow through and support the Durbin-Dodd public financing bill.