Thursday, July 5, 2012

Before You Give That Political Donation ...

Campaign Reform – yeh, I would say that it is needed. And taking a good ol’ALEC perspective – it needs to start at the state level - with YOU!

I spend quite a bit of time looking at the campaign reports that are filed in multiple states to find ALEC related expenses.

The one thing that I have found – which I find interestingly disgusting is how candidates - of both parties - spend their money.

When you give money to a candidate you are kinda expecting it to be spent on their campaign – right?  Stuff like flyers, advertising, paper, ink, postage – etc, right????

I’m trying to remember this information off the top of my head without having to do more research – but I think I’ve gotten most of the issues.

What I am finding as a repeating pattern across most states is this:

When you give money to a candidate – here are some of the ways that I am finding that candidates spend YOUR money:
Normal operating expenses – yep.
The five that bother me the most are:
Making donations to other candidate’s campaigns – candidates you may not support!
Making outrageous donations to charitable organizations – organizations that you may not support!
Donations to religious organizations – that you may not support
Donations to their alma mater – even if it’s in a different state
Making obscene donations to the state democratic/republican party and state republican/democratic caucus.
And then you have other stuff like this:
Catering for parties for other politicians – not related to the campaign.
Sponsorships of events – not at the lowest level, but at the premium levels – bronze, silver, gold, platinum -  that involve writing checks with four or five digits in them.
Lots of flowers – now I think flowers are a personal thing and not necessarily a good use of political campaign donations.

It’s interesting – ‘cause they take OUR money
And then spend it on things that make them appear more valued in the community – “oh god, look at how much candidate x donated!”, because of their donations made with YOUR money
And most of us have a hard time eking out even 5% of our spendable income to actually make any donations to worthy causes

And for most of us, we’re not even getting representation of, by, and for the people from most of these candidates.

Moral of the story:
I’m not saying that you should quit donating to candidates – I am saying that YOU should hold candidates responsible for how they spend YOUR money!

Before you give to a candidate this year – I would go to your state campaign finance board webpage and check out how they have spent the money they received over the past two or three years.

You may be surprised at how YOUR money is being spent and to whom the candidate is writing out checks from YOUR money.

And in my opinion – you have the right to complain to the candidate.  If they have so much money that they can donate to other candidates and other causes – I think the candidate needs to re-think their spending patterns and concentrate on “getting elected” – duh!     not needlessly increasing their public persona – using OUR money.

If they are taking PAC money contributions (which most of them are) and then giving it to another candidate or another cause – we need to question that.  To me that’s a shell game - which cup is the money really under?

It is OUR responsibility – to question OUR elected politicians – that’s what sustaining a democracy is all about.

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