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Prof. David Schultz’s post criticizes the “dissing” of democracy. Saying that it rings hollow is understatement. Here’s an example of Dr. Schultz’s argument:

Consider first the most obvious and blatant assault on democracy–the behind the door negotiations to resolve the budget. It’s bad enough when legislative leaders and the governor did private talks and deals on the budget at the governor’s mansion. Bad enough when votes take place at the end of session at the wee hours of the morning. Bad enough when they take place in impromptu conference committee hearings that effectively exclude the public and most legislators. But now the talks to resolve the disputes over the three budget bills are being done in private between Governor Dayton and Speaker Daudt. No public, no media, no other legislators.

When have any final negotiations been open to the public? When the DFL controlled St. Paul in 2013, there was a dispute on how to raise taxes. Gov. Dayton, then-Speaker Thissen and Sen. Bakk met at the Governor’s Mansion to negotiate the final details. The public wasn’t invited, nor was the press. To this day, we don’t know what was said because it was held in private. We didn’t find out what they’d negotiated until the bills were passed.

I don’t recall any outcries from Prof. Schultz accusing the DFL of short-circuiting democracy then. I don’t recall Prof. Schultz complaining about the lack of transparency when Tim Pawlenty negotiated budgets with then-Speaker Kelliher and Sen. Pogemiller, either.

This is the first time Prof. Schultz has complained about the lack of transparency. If you’re going to make a principled argument, it has to be consistent to be credible.

Second, Democrats and Republicans joined together with the governor to eliminate the political contribution rebate (PCR) program. These program, one of the true hallmarks of political reform in Minnesota, allowed for Minnesotans to contribute up to $50 per year and have it rebated to them by the state. The PCR was nationally hailed as a powerful campaign finance reform tool that encouraged small contributors to give.

I’ve never heard of the PCR thought of as a “powerful campaign finance reform tool.” Further, it’s questionable to say that it “encouraged small contributors to give” because people aren’t really giving anything. They’re sending a check into the state but then they’re sent that money back in the form of a rebate check. The PCR is just a way to encourage public financing of campaigns, which is anything but reform.

So-called reformers talk about leveling the playing field during campaigns. When they talk about that, it almost automatically means everyone gets the same money from the government. How is that fair? I want to know which candidates can build a grassroots organization. I want to know which candidates can raise money because that tells me which candidates are appealing to the most voters.

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