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 Response Page - Keesha Gaskins  Interview - Campaign Finance & Precinct Caucuses    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Keesha Gaskins Interview of 07/03/08,

The questions:
comment on Keesha Gaskins summary

_4.6 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, should public financing be used to offset the ability of independent groups to make unlimited campaign contributions on behalf of specific candidates?

_7.6 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, should the matter of conducting fair and effective precinct caucuses remain largely an internal matter for the political parties?

Kurt M. Anderson (2) (9)
I am generally reluctant to answer rote-formatted questionnaires but I note that yours allows for nuanced responses and, more importantly, it is related to the activities of the League of Women Voters, an organization with a spotless record of nonpartisanship. It's also short.

I give the first question approximately a 2. There seems always to be a way to trump any well-intentioned scheme of public financing (I've been a statewide campaign treasurer, so I have a pretty good idea of what the rules are). A better idea may be to require all commercials and print ads to disclose the cost of the ad placement, the cost of producing the ad, and the budgeted cost of all use of the ad, right in the ad.

I give the second one a 9. The parties do not do a perfect job of designing and running their caucuses, but these are exercises of the First Amendment right of assembly, and government should regulate them with a light touch, if at all.

Per another of my policies, I will post this inquiry and my response on my web pages.

Dennis Johnson (0) (10)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (2) (2)

Both political parties are leaning far left and far right. They can not make the changes needed. Therefore the legislature needs to make the changes for them, but I don't think they have the will to do so.

Carolyn Ring (0) (10)
There is no doubt the amount of money currently spent on campaigns from local councils to the presidency borders on the obscene. However, if candidate A can raise $200,000 and Candidate B can not, to give candidate B $200,000 in public funds is, in my opinion, absurd. I do concur with the Civic Caucus member who brought up the observation that both party caucuses tend to be controlled by the extremes of each party. I remember talking to one former party leader in a county who complained they used to get over 100 people out to caucuses and now "they" get about 15. I suggested he get 16 or more then and hi reply was "I don't even want to associate with "those people." The caucus system can work and can come up with the best qualified most elect-able candidates only if there is wide participation and that is up to party leaders to promote. The fault lies in moderates not attending the caucuses. You can't fault the people that abide by the system. You can fault those who complain, but do not attend.

Al Quie (0) (9)
If the issue is party platforms, that is an internal matter. If it has to do with endorsing candidates, I think the parties ought to act as nominating committees and should not require a candidate to pledge not to run in the primary. I am happy that some candidates have challenged their party and defeated the party endorsed candidates in the primary. I am leery of the legislature messing around with it.

Donald H. Anderson (10) (8)

Vici Oshiro (5) (10)

Question No. 1: Would want to see a workable plan before making a commitment. You find a plan and groups will find a way around it.

Question No. 2: Although in the unlikely event we have numbers similar to 2008, governments might have to do some enabling. Not many places available for 300 people from one precinct.

Do not prohibit out of district funds. That would mean a candidate's family (e.g., parents) could not help. Maybe limit out of state funds - but don't prohibit. Caucus funds and assistance help make some districts competitive. Restricting funds to district donors would be an strong advantage for incumbents. With current limits on what each individual can give, this is a non-issue for me.

If Civic Caucus tackles campaign funding for MN state candidates, I suggest handbooks from Campaign Finance Board be considered mandatory homework before deciding to undertake such a study. They're available online and I think they've developed a good balanced system. And remember that nearly all of those treasurers who must keep both candidates and party units in compliance are volunteers.

Ray Schmitz (_) (5)
Question No. 1: Disagreement - unfortunately the independent advertising issue does not appear to respond to correction, for example the swift boat issue was not resolved by counter advertising, so funds may not be the issue.

Question No. 2: Neutral - my understanding is that the state can set some rules, such as the date, but otherwise they are a decision of the party as a private entity. If the caucus system were eliminated we could have a half dozen or more candidates involved in a primary, but we do anyway don't we? I would much rather see an enforced compression of the period, 45 days, six weeks, more than enough. But again there is no constitutional limit on campaigning, free speech and all that.

Alan Miller (8) (10)

Kurt Hansen (10) (0)

The caucus process controlled by a few people does not appear to be a fair process, certainly not a democratic process. I believe that a primary, where the general registered voters choose the candidate to represent a party, is the process of choice, not delegates. A small number of delegates should not have the power to eliminate other choices for the general election.

State Rep. Mindy Greiling (10) (9)

Pam Ellison (10) (10)
I really believe we should go further on Campaign Finance issues. I think that ALL candidates should have based on the level of their race, should actually be given a lump sum from the government to run for office, and be allowed in addition to that to have ONLY individual citizens to give to their campaigns at the current levels that individuals are allowed to give. I believe that is a limitation of $2000.00 per individual. If the government would come up with say giving 1/4 million per candidate in a statewide race, and say $125,000.00 in a local legislative race, I believe we would begin to see who REALLY is the better candidate in message, content of their platform and those that will really work hard to campaign for the people. We never get the best candidates elected, because they generally are average, everyday people that cannot begin to leverage the millions that are spent on mainstream political campaigns with the level of independent expenditures. The levels that the government gives is not nearly as important as the government enforcement of independent expenditures. If we would as a government set a limit of expenditure for each campaign based on the importance of the level the candidate is campaigning, we could then get tough on all the extraneous out of control spending by simply stating that "When government funds campaigns, NO INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES CAN BE MADE BY SPECIAL INTEREST

Wayne Jennings (9) (5)
Public financing might serve to shorten and focus campaigns as they are too long and expensive now.

Evan Rapp (7) (8)
I enjoyed the interview, and Keesha provided a clear view of the LOWV position. I agree with both ideals, with small caveats. Public financing can help neutralize the power of outside interests, but with so many financial burdens on individuals and government, there must be clear limits.

I believe in the need for a political party to control their own caucus, but voting is one of our most sacred rights. With so many people feeling disenfranchised these days,
it is critical to maintain a voting process that helps all citizens feel as though they are part of the system. Each party needs to rise up and maintain a standard which ensures
a fair outcome and efficient process.

Jan Hively (8) (8)
I like precinct caucuses. They expand broad-based participation and encourage leadership for party activities.

Connie Morrison (5) (10)

State Rep. Larry Haws (8) (10)

Chris Brazelton (8) (8)

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important discussion. As a member of the LWV I appreciate the thoughtful way that critical issues of the day are researched, discussed and then consensus is reached before taking any official positions.

I also am intrigued by your group and the means by which you are reaching out to the community. I hope to continue receiving these communications.

After looking at your website and reading the bios of the members, I'm wondering if any of you knew my grandfather,Raymond Julkowski. He was an attorney, served in the
Minnesota legislature for 20 years from 1935 to 1954. He passed away before I decided to get involved in politics as a candidate, and I would love to hear from anyone who
remembers serving with him. He was also a founding member of the bank that eventually became the Northeast State Bank.

Bill Frenzel (0) (7)
(1) I oppose Taxpayer Financing of Elections for any purpose whatsoever - Independent groups may have a Constitutional right to make expenditures, but they have no Constitutional immunity from disclosure, nor from reasonable limitations on contributions.

(2)_Caucuses were only fair when my group was in control, but Parties have some rights, too, and can use caucuses pretty much as they wish for Party business. The best ways to improve the Nomination Process would seem to be through changes in Primary election dates and the re-institution of a Prez Pref Primary.

Jeanne Massey
The League of Women Voters of Minnesota has adopted a formal position in support of Instant Runoff Voting, following their exhaustive study in 2005.

Richard McGuire (3) (5)

William McGaughey (8) (8)

These are not my campaign issues and I reserve the right to change my mind with subsequent information. However, I would give an "8" to both questions. I also favor Instant Runoff Voting.

Joe Mansky (0) (6)
It appears to me that direct public financing of election campaigns may be a concept whose time has come and gone. Barack Obama has shown how to raise a substantial amount of money in small donations. Other candidates will learn from his example. As I have mentioned earlier, the public role might be better focused on providing low-cost access to the broadcast media and the mail.

David Broden (0) (8)

1. Public financing should not be a component of the election process in any way. Effort of specific groups should be controlled if at all by other means such as restrictions of how special groups may fund a candidate--one that seems to have some sense of adding balance is that no one group as a interest group can or its spin off an provide more than some fixed percent of the total funds received and spent by a candidate--perhaps special group funding could be limited to 10% of the funds--this of course assumes some sort of an effective monitoring process. Good topic for discussion.

2. Certainly the caucus system is a creation of the party but also established and sort of sanctioned by the state. In that role the state should help to educate the public and facilitate the access to the caucus--internal processes must be party disciplined--if the state changes the role of a caucus by how primaries are conducted then some sort of a combined system may be worth trying. Let's let the system work.

Bob Brown (0) (5)
More public financing would just give more money to the media and overpaid campaign consultants. To me about all that can be done (under current court rulings) constructively with campaign finance is to require immediate and full disclosure of all contributions to candidates, parties, and independent expenditure groups. About 35 years ago I proposed that the way to reform campaign spending would be to allow individuals to contribute only to the political party or candidate of their choice and that the parties and candidates could accept contributions only from individuals. This would strengthen parties, eliminate independent expenditure groups (which sprung up as the result of previous reform efforts), and provide more transparency to the process. Since the courts have decided to equate money with speech (which totally undermines the equal rights of poor people) I realize we could get my solution only with a constitutional amendment.

Diane Flynn
Great write-up! Thanks so much for including me at this meeting. You are doing very important work, and I remain incredibly impressed by the way you stay on top of current issues.

Shirley Heaton (5) (5)

Mike Bidwell (0) (8)

Ellen Brown (_) (8)

First point is an interesting idea I had never heard before and haven't thought through enough to comment on. By the way, the LWV has strongly endorsed IRV. Gaskins remarks re it are entirely her own (an in my opinion inappropriately stated when
representing LWV.)

Paul Hauge (7) (9)

Larry Schluter (0) (9)

We should not be telling the parties how to run their caucuses and independent groups make sizeable donations to both parties.

Gregg Iverson (5) (7)

David Dillon (8) (10)

Robert A. Freeman (2) (8)

Question No. 1: The inadequacy of the public financing system can be clearly seen with Obama's decision to eschew it favor of private donations. Without some limit on contributions (which the Sup Ct has clearly ruled as a limitation of free speech) public financing can never replace that. Better to make private contributions completely transparent.

Question No. 2: It should be up to the parties how they choose their candidates - the recent brouhaha caused by massive turnout in MN for Obama/Clinton was largely a fault of poor organization by the DFL, not the caucus system itself. Parties should be entitled to choose whatever system they believe produces the best, most representative candidates. Does the League of Women Voters have a democratic primary system for selecting its president or do officers have undue influence?

Racism in Minnesota--This statement by Gaskins (that MN is "racist" in terms of delivery of social services) is unhelpful and emotive. Perhaps social service provision could be described as "racist" if decision-makers were consciously allotting resources on the basis of racial prejudices but I doubt that it is the case. More likely the system is flawed. Regardless, statements like these only inflame emotions and impede finding real public policy solutions.

Charles Lutz (6) (6)

James Sherrill (0) (10)



The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  Lee Canning,  Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel, 
Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and  John Rollwagen.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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