Special interest groups have taken over the campaign money donations in Utah, where only three percent of the money raised by legislators actually comes from their constituents, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“If that isn’t an indictment of our current system, I don’t know what is,” Kim Burningham, former chairman of Utahns for Ethical Government, told the Salt Lake Tribune. “It says clearly that there’s a lot of allegiance owed to special interests, and we need to change that.”
Three percent is worse than last year, when seven percent of campaign donations came from the regular citizen in Utah.
But Utah is not the only state that has this problem. A loophole in Florida law allows special interest groups, especially real estate and development companies, to donate a disproportionate amount to campaigns.
Retired judges in Wisconsin recently asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to “consider new rules that would require judges and justices to recuse themselves in cases involving parties or lawyers who spent money to help elect them,” according to The Journal Times.
Even if the interest group represents the majority of public opinion in an area, studies show that a “policymaker guided by interest group representation, rather than a more comprehensive survey of issue public opinion, might actually come down on the wrong side of an issue in most cases,” according to Journalist’s Resource.
The big donations grant these interest groups “the right to be heard, and their arguments are listened to,” Burningham told the Salt Lake Tribune. “When those arguments are listened to, there’s a better chance they will be followed — especially if the other side is not heard.”