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The Best Money Can Buy

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The way Karen Merrill sees it, campaign reform in Michigan is more necessary than ever before.

As the executive director of Michigan Common Cause, she is part of an effort begun last year to fundamentally change the way politicians raise money for their campaigns. Last month's election only served to reinforce the call by the coalition Michigan Voters for Clean Elections, which includes Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, to put a campaign reform measure on the November 2000 ballot.

"Look at the last election," says Merrill. "More special interest money than ever was spent. Special interests are going out and recruiting candidates, training them, and then funding them to get them elected. As a result, you get candidates coming into office who are indebted to special interests."

But it is not only candidates who are benefiting from this special interest money. Ballot measures on both the state and local level are also largely being determined by special interest money.

To determine the effect spending had, the Metro Times looked at four November races (at left and linked below). What's apparent is this: Under our current system, democracy almost always favors those with the most money.

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