Turning campaign laws into a political weapon

Have our municipal elections in Longmont suddenly become so corrupt and rotten that we need a draconian version of the already confusing state and federal fair campaign laws to bludgeon our neighbors over the head with, in case they step out of line? I don’t think so. But that’s what the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act seems to be turning into – just another political weapon.

Forming the city election committee may have been a good idea; but it quickly became immersed in the same old political infighting. The best remedy is to put this subject of political wrangling back into the judicial system, where it belongs.

When an attempt is made to criminalize every little detail of campaign contributions, the matter of fairness arises — the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And that’s where the government authorities are expected to be involved. It’s their job, not a committee’s, to examine, investigate, and prosecute any alleged electoral wrongdoing.

The LFCPA eats up a remarkable amount of time in city council business.

Councilwoman Sarah Levison, in an opinion piece in the 5/26/10 Times-Call, took conservative blogger Chris Rodriguez to task over his LFCPA criticisms, likely bringing thousands of new hits to his website Longmont Advocate. Rodriguez, as his writings show, is perfectly capable of taking care of himself—mentally, physically and ideologically. Most of the big boomer letter-writers around town have attacked him and failed.

But Councilwoman Levison didn’t stop there. Rather than debating the issues of fairness that Rodriguez raises over certain parts of the LFCPA, she uncharacteristically questioned the personal integrity and honesty of her four fellow council members, by accusing them of “disassembling the LFCPA,” causing the city “to go back to a closed door review” where “the council now can effectively shield campaign finances from public scrutiny.”

I say uncharacteristically, because I didn’t think she could be that extreme. Yet those are her words. Although she apologized. I do not know why the four targeted could not be expected to react.

But that’s what we’re into, with this contentious campaign law stuff – in Longmont.

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