Pay-to-play is a term used to describe an all too common occurrence our political system: when money is exchanged directly for political favors, such as generous campaign donations for a lucrative government contract. Or tickets to the Super Bowl in exchange for a legislative favor. The phrase began dominating headlines in late 2008, when former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges that included trying to sell the Senate seat of then President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.
Blagojevich and other recent pay-to-play scandals illustrate the need for states to adopt pay-to-play style laws, such as Connecticut’s. In response to major scandal in that state, Connecticut lawmakers in 2005 banned lobbyists and prospective state contractors from making campaign contributions to legislative and statewide offices. That law was upheld in late 2008 by a federal district court that found it constitutional in light of the state’s history of corruption, and Common Cause will be working to pass more of those laws in states that include New Mexico, New York, New Jersey and others.
Read more about Common Cause's "Clean Government for Change" proposal that would help put an end to pay-to-play politics.