The North Carolina State Board of Election's recent decision finding the activities of Raleigh businessman Arthur Pope did not violate election law does not reflect the forward thinking that distinguishes the Tar Heel state from its southern neighbors. By allowing Pope to tansfer money ($660,000) from his retail business and fund political expenditures to candidates of his persuasion, the NC Board of Elections is agreeing with the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Buckley v. Valeo, which allows money to be equated to speech.
The money I make as an educator does not compare to Mr. Pope's deep pockets and abundant bank accounts. I have no annimosity towards Pope and his wealth. He has been successful and should be rewarded for his hard work. However, when money is allowed to be protected under the First Amendment as speech, a basic fundamental of American Democracy is violated.
The First Amendment allows us the protection to speak freely without fear of government reprisal. This right is given to every American, rich and poor. When money is factored into this equation, a rich person's speech is louder and more constant than that of a poor person. If this takes place for long amounts of time, government becomes corrupted by an aristocracy that cares only about issues concerning the wealthiest of Americans.
The United States Congress and state legislatures across the country need to deal with campaign finance law and level the playing field to allow more people to participate in the political process. In the coming weeks, this author will be detailing an idea for publicly funded state legislative campaigns in the Old North State. I am becoming more convinced that publicly funded elections is the only course for returning democratic principles to our government.