Death Knell Tolls for Campaign Finance

Obama snub of public cash highlights weakness of system
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2008 7:48 AM CDT
Barack Obama talks with Howard Dean, right, head of the Democratic National Committee, while in flight from Washington to Chicago Thursday, June 19, 2008.    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing for his presidential campaign represents the biggest challenge yet to the troubled, loophole-filled system. But while the Illinois senator is now poised to spend a record amount to win the presidency, the explosion of  Internet donations that have propelled his campaign might actually be more successful at offsetting the power of special interests, writes the New York Times.

Every presidential candidate since 1976 has accepted public money, but they've done so "kicking and screaming," one professor tells the Times. From "soft money" to unregulated 527 groups, politicians have successfully exploited the program's loopholes. "The reality is that the amount of money that comes from the government is not enough to run a modern presidential campaign,” says a campaign donations tracker. Obama's decline of public funds might kill the scheme, but his flood of small donors makes the snub almost ironic.