Campaign finance reform has not been a major issue for the new administration, one reason being the economic crisis. But while the crisis--along with the major policy initiatives of energy and health care--has put campaign finance in the back seat, could it also be an argument for reform?

It is, according to Democracy 21 founder Fred Wertheimer, whose group seeks to fight the influence money enjoys in U.S. politics and policy. In a phone conversation today, Wertheimer suggested that money's influence helped create the crisis.

"When we look at the financial crisis here, you find out that one of the fundamental problems that occurred was the failure to properly regulate the financial industry, and it turns out that the financial services sector gave $1.6 billion in the last decade to federal candidates and their political parties, so we think the unfolding story in Washington of the effort to overcome the extraordinary economic crisis we're facing is also making a very powerful case for why we need fundamental reform of the campaign finance laws, to get out of the influence/money culture that pervades Washington," Wertheimer said.

It's commonplace for activists to take almost anything as evidence to support their causes, but Wertheimer's premises seem to check out.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.