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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Editorials: Ethics in government?

Above: Love Stinks. Below: So does politics.

- Campaign sleaze: Citizens United as election pollution - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

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Elections attract money like garbage attracts flies. Perhaps that’s why this year’s campaigns smell so putrid. The Supreme Court’s rotten decision in Citizens United has made it possible for anyone with money to run an unlimited and opaque campaign for or against any candidate. That’s why there is an avalanche of negative TV advertising and sleazy politics.

And why do rich corporations and individuals seek to influence elections? To buy the tax, spending and regulatory policies they want.

The most prominent local example is U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch’s re-election race. The Tribune reported the other day that FreedomWorks, a tea party super PAC (political action committee) that opposes Hatch, has disgorged $649,000 into efforts to deny him the Utah Republican Party’s nomination. But five similar outfits that favor Hatch have spent even more. The biggest, Freedom Path, has spent $571,000. American Action Network has dumped another $200,000 into pro-Hatch efforts. Three smaller groups have pitched in about $100,000 between them. ...

... Which brings us to a different political landfill, the Republican presidential race. The McClatchy-Tribune News Service reported the other day that businesses that have contracts with the federal government have contributed $890,000 to a super PAC, Restore Our Future, that supports Mitt Romney. For about four decades, federal election law has barred contributions from federal contractors to campaigns in an effort to prevent corruption. But after Citizens United, that now is a legal gray area.

Rather like sewage effluent.

- Citizens unite over Citizens United decision - Verner Bertelsen, for The Helena (Mont.) Independent-Record

It’s time for Montanans to stand up for themselves.

More and more, our individual voices are getting drowned out by big money in politics. The recent Citizens United v. FEC decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has made the situation intolerable.

That’s why on Feb. 28, we filed a citizens’ initiative that we hope will appear on the 2012 ballot.

This initiative states clearly that corporations are not people. Corporations do not breathe, they do not have children, they do not die fighting in wars for our country, and they do not vote in elections. ...

- Disclose Act must pass to make SuperPACS at least somewhat accountable - San Jose Mercury News Editorial

... The basic aim is to build in at least some accountability for the super PACs, which gained traction after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled enigmatically in the Citizens United case that corporations are people for the purposes of political contributions. (Invite one to dinner this weekend.) ...

- Punish lies at the ballot box - Denver Post Editorial

Spreading lies in an effort to keep voters from the polls is indefensible and despicable behavior.

It shouldn't happen.

But what should a society be willing to give up to police such activity? Free speech rights? We don't think so. ...

- Will the Legislature take reform seriously? - Idaho Statesman Editorial

- Drop culture war; tackle real issues - Arizona Republic

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