The only real campaign finance reform

November 23, 2010

The article, "Panel Eyes Rules on Campaign Finance" (Nov. 14) compels me once again to attempt to inform your editors, reporters and readers on the way to achieve real campaign finance reform.

In the 2010 gubernatorial primary election I kept my word. I did not take campaign contributions from anyone. I could have, but I believe it's unethical to do so. The result speaks for itself — I received 19,517 votes on a budget of $450 over a 14 month period of campaigning.

In writing about panel convened to consider ways to reform the campaign finance rules, reporter Julie Bykowicz presented all types of data and obstacles that will make their job a challenging one. But in reality, the formula is very simple.

First, each candidate should do as I have done — make a self-imposed commitment not to take campaign contributions, which are really no more than bribes. Rules and regulations are not needed — just make the promise to the people to refrain from taking the money and keep the promise.

The question becomes, will future candidates have the courage and integrity to make this commitment?

Secondly, the media, including The Baltimore Sun, should make a commitment to give each candidate on the ballot an opportunity to have his/her platform made known to the readership. That means factual articles about each candidate should be printed in your paper; blog space online is not sufficient. If the candidate is willing to take the time, trouble and effort to file for political office, then the candidate should be taken seriously regardless of party.

Your editors and reporters should review their Journalism 101 course which should emphasize the role of the paper to inform and educate readers about each candidate's position on the issues important to the community. Showing arrogance and displaying know-it-all conduct is not the way writers and editors should behave. Their opinions regarding who is a serious candidate should be discussed in the editorial section, not in the news section.

This is the formula. The question is, does the editorial staff have the wisdom to practice ethical journalism?

Ralph Jaffe

The writer was a Democratic candidate for governor in 2010.

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