Hightower: Ms. Smith Goes to Washington

Quick, somebody call a doctor...I think I'm about to say something good about a Republican!Auugggghh...too late, here it comes: Linda Smith is doing her party -- and all of us -- proud by standing tall for campaign reform.There. I said it. And I'm glad. This first-term, Republican congresswoman from Washington state is seriously trying to get the corrupting power of Big Money out of American politics. Of course, to take such a stand for democracy, Smith is having to stand on the necks of her own party's leaders, who want no campaign reform whatsoever now that they are in charge of Congress and cashing-in big time. Indeed, her party's Loudspeaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who personally is butt-deep in special-interest money, recently declared that "the political process is not overfunded, but underfunded." The little tyrant is mighty ticked that Linda Smith is pushing a bill to ban all contributions from political action committees.But she's not backing down. She's the "Ms." version of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," saying that when she was first elected, she had not a clue about how politics is really played in our money-soaked Capitol. "Every night," she now reports, "members go across the street to the fundraisers...where lobbyists [give money] to buy access." She adds that "our political system is, in reality, a few people in D.C. with big checkbooks controlling America's future. It's our dirty little secret."But, Rep. Smith seems determined to do what she can to expose the secret and stop this institutionalized vote-buying. Her stand is driving Newt Gingrich crazy -- but that's a pretty short ride for him. Let's help drive all these money-grubbers crazy by demanding real campaign finance reform. To get involved, call the Center for Responsive Politics at 202/857-0044.

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