Former U.S. Sen. David Boren (D- Okla.) sharply criticized the influence of political action committees (PACs) in an hour-long speech to an Institute of Politics study group yesterday afternoon.
"The money is coming from the wrong places," said Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma.
During the address, entitled "The Coming Revolution in American Politics," Boren said he believes far too much money goes into the process of electing public officials and that campaign finance reform was needed because members of Congress now spend too much time raising money rather than helping constituents.
"You don't have time to go back and talk to people at home because you have to raise money," said Boren, who served in the Senate for 16 years.
Boren said senators must raise somewhere between $13,000 and $14,000 each week of their terms to prepare for the next election. He added that more than half of these campaign donations come from outside of the candidate's state.
Boren said that the American public has never been as critical of its elected officials as it is now. He cited the inefficiency of the national government as one reason for the widespread discontent.
The former Senator said the very existence of large numbers of government employees, most notably the 12,000 staff members in Congress, tends to give rise to unnecessary busywork.
Such overstaffing, he added, prevents legislators from contacting each other. "They become a barrier to communication between senators," he said.