The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Virginia is in dire need of campaign finance reform

The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond.
The Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Comment

I was pleased to see Matthew Leatherman’s Feb. 14 Outlook essay, “Five Myths: Campaign finance.” As a volunteer for American Promise Virginia, an advocacy group committed to improving election fairness through campaign finance reform, I would add several specifics about our state. Mr. Leatherman indicated that “sunlight-exposed information” works only when it “comes to the attention of voters.” This is true, but Virginia is one of only five states that has no campaign donation limitations and limited disclosure laws. Media throughout the state have found a ready audience of angry Virginians who are tired of having their voices stifled by big-money interests. Using easily accessible data platforms covering campaign contributions (such as the Virginia Public Access Project), citizens are pushing for an end to our “pay-to-play” regime. Del. David L. Bulova’s (D-Fairfax) campaign finance study bill appears poised to become law if it can pass the state Senate.

Of course, as Mr. Leatherman highlighted, Virginia will need commitment from its citizens to take steps beyond the establishment of a study subcommittee. We need to enact meaningful laws on campaign finance reform. Virginians should take those steps by contacting their state legislators and demanding substantive campaign finance reforms in Virginia.

JoAnn Kennedy Flanagan, Fairfax

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