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A lot of dirt clings to Clean Money

The effort to clean up the money flowing into Portland election campaigns so far has had the opposite effect. The so-called Voter Owned Elections system is further muddying the city's already tarnished reputation.

As a scandal grows around possible abuses of the campaign-financing system, Portland citizens are witnessing a familiar pattern over at City Hall: Lack of forethought, inattention to detail and a slow reaction when evidence of problems begins to emerge.

Now comes a confused investigation into whether City Council candidate Emilie Boyles submitted forged signatures so she could qualify for $145,000 in public campaign funds. This latest inquiry is a result of the commissioners' decision last year to approve the public-finance system without a vote of the people Ñ and without providing all safeguards necessary to prevent abuses.

The controversy over Clean Money elections offers further proof that Ñ as much as the public decries the influence of big money in politics Ñ it's difficult to design an alternative that's not equally susceptible to corruption.