My favorite line?
"If a police officer takes a bribe from a criminal, it's a crime," Barkley said. "When a representative or senator takes money from the groups he's supposed to regulate, it's called business as usual in Washington."
The Barkley campaign issued a press release Monday calling for a ban on PAC and lobbyist money.
Barkley Calls for Ban on PAC, Lobbyist Money
IP Candidate: 'The People of Minnesota Deserve a Senator of Their Own'
For Immediate Release
Contact: Christopher Truscott
Read more about Sen. Barkley's Campaign Finance plans: Click here.
PLYMOUTH, Minn.—Dean Barkley, an Independence Party Senate candidate, is calling on Congress to enact rules that prevent its members from accepting campaign contributions from political action committees and lobbyists.
"Every few years Congress fakes courage and addresses ethics reform," Barkley said. "But each and every time they ignore the most important aspect of the issue—the millions and millions of dollars special interests pump into the system."
In the 2008 election cycle, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has accepted more than $2 million from PACs and DFLer Al Franken has taken in nearly $300,000. Over the same period of time, DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar has taken more than $280,000 from PACs even though she's not up for re-election until 2012.
"If a police officer takes a bribe from a criminal, it's a crime," Barkley said. "When a representative or senator takes money from the groups he's supposed to regulate, it's called business as usual in Washington. When asked about this at Game Fair over the weekend, the best Sen. Coleman could do was tell us he had no answers—as if the oil companies contribute to him simply because he's a nice guy."
Barkley acknowledged that the Supreme Court has held that spending money on political activities is free speech protected by the First Amendment, but he said Congress does have the power to control how its members fund their campaigns.
"If PACs and lobbyists want to spend money to run commercials or register voters, that's fine. We can't stop that," Barkley said. "But we can and must bring to an end the long-running practice of allowing big special interests to buy or lease a member of Congress. Our country can no longer afford to pay for the IOUs these politicians are racking up in the name of funding their next campaign."
As Minnesota's next senator, Barkley will introduce campaign-finance legislation that will help the American people level the playing field against the special interests. Under Barkley's plan, each registered voter would receive a $100 voucher to designate to the candidate of his or her choice. This way, Barkley said, candidates could fund their elections "by working for their constituents rather than selling themselves to the robber barons of the 21st century."
Labor unions, corporations, lawyers, health care companies, oil companies and the defense industry are among the largest PAC contributors to the big party candidates in Minnesota.
"There's a direct connection between the people funding elections and the lack of progress on the critical issues facing our country," Barkley said. "So long as the oil industry or the unions or the big insurance companies are funding elections and writing legislation we're not going to see real progress on lowering gas prices or school accountability or health care. I'm in this race because I think the people of Minnesota deserve a senator of their own."
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Barkley, 57, served as the director of the Minnesota Office of Strategic and Long Range Planning under Gov. Jesse Ventura. In November 2002, Ventura appointed Barkley to fill the final two months of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's term.
The former governor said recently that Barkley is "measured minute by minute … the most effective U.S. senator in Minnesota history."
More information is available online at www.senatorbarkley.com.