JEFFERSON CITY - Calling on Missourians to support the tax-supported campaign finance plan Proposition B, 90-year-old Doris "Granny D" Haddock spoke Wednesday on the steps of the state capitol.
"When election reform leaders in Missouri invited me to walk for Proposition B, I couldn't get my shoes on fast enough," Haddock said in her distinctive New Hampshire accent.
Proposition B would set up a statewide system of government campaign finance funded by an increase in the corporate franchise tax.
Flanked by Prop. B supporters and surrounded by giant bags with dollar signs symbolizing special interest cash, Haddock talked about the power of money in politics.
"You are not part of this great and happy celebration of money," she said. "We must not allow the sale of public policy that gets worse every year to persist."
Calling herself an old Yankee, Haddock said she remembered when Congressmen were representatives for the people, not functions for special interests.
"I want my Congress back and my democracy back," she said. "And I want to walk past a veterans cemetery without having to think about the democracy they died for that is at risk."
After her speech, Haddock addressed a group of high school students from John F. Hodge High School in Saint James, Mo. The class was on a field trip to the capitol.
She told the students that she lives on Social Security and wondered what she could do to change the influence of money in politics. She decided she could attract attention by walking across the country for reform.
"I decided to live as a pilgrim and seek food and shelter along the way," she said. "I was willing to do whatever had to be done."
Haddock started her walk across Missouri on Sept. 25 in Kansas City. She expects to be in St. Louis by Nov. 1.
Haddock's Missouri trek is funded in part by the Massachusetts-based Alliance for Democracy, said Nick Palumbo, field director for Haddock. The alliance bills itself as a new populist movement. Palumbo said the alliance is renting a recreational vehicle and paying phone costs for the walk. Haddock is staying with hosts along the way to cut down on hotel expenses.
Haddock, from Dublin, N.H., wrapped up a nationwide trek February in the name of campaign finance reform. At a pace of 10 miles a day, six days a week, she walked 3,200 miles over 14 months. Four and a half of those months were through Texas.
"I don't pay much attention to the weather," she said. "If I did, I wouldn't have made it through Texas and the 100-degree heat."
Haddock was introduced by Linda Penniman from St. Louis, who is walking with her across the state. Penniman's son, Nick Penniman, is national coordinator for the Alliance for Democracy.
"I'm adding a Missouri context to her message," Penniman said. "We're just two grannies walking and hoping to bring our grandchildren a better democracy."