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Del. Ken Plum: Systematic Changes to Government Needed

by Del. Ken Plum — July 20, 2017 at 11:15 am 12 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

While there are a myriad of issues facing government, some advocacy groups are working on changes to the basic way government works as a fundamental means to respond to a host of issues. There are many such advocacy organizations; this column describes a few.

Probably most people would agree with the contention that “there is too much money in politics!” If the influence of big money could be removed from political campaigns and from the legislative process, we would have better government and many issues would be resolved. Every Voice is an organization addressing this issue. In its most recent survey of candidates running in Virginia elections the group introduced its survey by stating that “People of all political stripes believe politicians are influenced by their dependency on wealthy donors and therefore don’t always act in the public interest. This perception fuels cynicism and drives distrust of politicians and our government.” Every Voice goes on to point out that “Virginia is one of just a handful of states with absolutely no contribution limits on what wealthy and corporate donors can give to candidates running for office.”

At the same time, there are states like Maine, Arizona and Connecticut that have made reforms in campaign financing, providing candidates the opportunity to raise money for their campaigns through small donations and limited public funds if they agree not to accept big donations. I support such a movement in Virginia. While my political stance on issues has never attracted big donors, I would support a statutory limit on the size of donations, especially those from corporations. While this action is important for Virginia, it is even more critical at the federal level to limit corporate contributions in elections.

Another group working in Virginia to bring about systemic change to the way the government operates is OneVirginia2021 that focuses on legislative redistricting. Under the present system of drawing legislative district boundaries in Virginia and in most states, the organization contends legislators pick their voters rather than the voters picking their legislators. Known for years as “gerrymandering” as boundary lines are drawn around friendly voters to ensure the outcome of elections, OneVirginia2021 has adopted the term “gerryrigged” to describe the same activity. Their documentary by the same name explains the process and its impact on election outcomes and legislative activity (“GerryRIGGED“).

In the early 1980s, I worked with Common Cause, another organization that proposes basic changes to improve governance, on this issue and introduced the first bill in Virginia and one of the first in the nation to propose that an independent, non-partisan commission be given the responsibility of drawing legislative district lines after each federal census. OneVirginia2021 has done a remarkable job of informing citizens and of enlisting voter support for candidates who support independent and non-partisan redistricting.

Working on individual issues facing the government and society is very important. Equally as important is working on reforms that would make our government work better.

  • ichrysso

    Says the person who has been in his position for over 20 years?

    • LOL

      Yes, he’s the same guy who whines about gerrymandering even though he benefits from a gerrymandered safe seat.

  • The Constitutionalist

    “While my political stance on issues has never attracted big donors”

    No surprise there.

    Why is it that every time you post one of these you’re just trying to limit how people spend their money?

  • Heh

    If there are going to be any systematic changes to government, Ken is the last person I’d want making them.

  • FactCheckingKen

    Seriously Ken? You have the audacity to talk about money in politics, even thought you were with Her?
    https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&cid=N00000019&type=I

    • FactCheckingKen

      ContributorTotalIndivsPACsUniversity of California $1,949,014$1,949,014$0Alphabet Inc $1,597,332$1,597,332$0EMILY’s List $1,362,732$1,348,812$13,920JPMorgan Chase & Co $1,179,250$1,176,250$3,000Microsoft Corp $1,133,274$1,129,774$3,500Citigroup Inc $1,052,604$1,044,604$8,000Goldman Sachs $1,051,471$1,041,471$10,000DLA Piper $1,027,670$1,000,670$27,000Morgan Stanley $1,014,856$1,009,856$5,000Time Warner $968,479$943,479$25,000Harvard University $950,299$950,299$0Skadden, Arps et al $842,393$837,893$4,500US Government $823,069$823,069$0Stanford University $775,070$775,070$0Columbia University $774,629$774,629$0US Dept of State $769,759$769,759$0Bank of America $747,154$732,904$14,250New York University $714,852$714,852$0Kirkland & Ellis $703,044$686,044$17,000Apple Inc $700,432$700,432$0

      • Systematic: change 》 failure

        Too bad, I actually like Kenny.

        Guilt by association, my guess, although perhaps not enough to send him to the slammer.

        Kenny, why did you do this???

  • This jus in Hillary Indicted

    Systematic changes result in systematic failures, we re already there.

    Thanks Ken

  • RERSRESQ

    It is not that there is too much citizen’s money in the political process. Rather, it is big government advocates like Ken Plum use government to invade every area of our lives and make claims on every dollar we make. He is the problem, not the solution. the Citizens United case, if it didn’t end up as it did, would have criminalized putting out a film and a book critical of Hillary Clinton. Thank God the Court remembered we set up this country to get away from overreaching government.

  • 40yearsinreston

    There should be term limits on drones
    Ken supporting these would be like a turkey voting for Xmas

  • Greg

    The only systematic change necessary is Ken Plum’s retirement.

  • east297

    The change I would like to see is you retiring!!! !!!

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