WV politicians react to Supreme Court decision
Sen. Jeff Kessler says this decision shows the need for greater transparency in the campaign financing process.
June 8, 2009 ·
Though it’s been in the works for awhile, Gov. Joe Manchin is now promising to speed up the appointment of a special panel to examine the state’s judiciary.
In a prepared statement, Manchin said the commission will take the Supreme Court decision into account in its recommendations.
It says, “The commission's study and any subsequent changes to the organization of our court system are important to ensure that our citizens have confidence in their judicial system in West Virginia.”
But measures to reform the process have failed in the past.
During this year’s legislative session, a bill implementing a pilot program for public campaign financing died in the Senate Finance Committee.
Senate Bill 311 would have allowed candidates running in state Supreme Court elections to use public funds for their campaign, freeing them from the need to raise money from special interest groups.
Sen. Jeff Kessler was the bill’s lead sponsor.
“I believe that would take the role out of fundraising and going out and trying to collect money from various donors, who I’m not saying do have any sense of entitlement or influence as a result of their donation, but it would at least eliminate that prospect from the election process,” he said.
“So the folks that were elected would be based on their qualifications and not necessarily on whether they’re the best connected or have the most money or raised the most money from various groups.”
Kessler would like to see the bill resurrected during the next legislative session. But he says creating a more transparent campaign financing process is just as important.
“I have all the utmost confidence in the people of this state to make wise decisions, elect good judges, elect good officials,” Kessler said. “But give them the information. Pull back the curtain from the Wizard of Oz and let’s see if he’s an imposter. And that’s all I’ve ever said.
“I think if the press is to do its job they have to have information. If the public is to do its job they have to have more information. So what is wrong, and why would anyone object to having to disclose the identity of enormous donors, or any donors, who are donating to a campaign to try to influence the outcome?”
Kessler says he will send a letter to the governor, urging Manchin to include a bill updating the state’s 527 legislation during the next special call.