Thursday, October 26, 2006

Money in Politics

It's a tale of two stories, probably signifying nothing. Yesterday the Journal-Inquirer reported that out of contributors were the main contributors to a CT based 527. Campaigns have been complaining about the the 527s who routinely attack, so it was somewhat of a surprise to read that this group
-- is perhaps best known for a flier mailed under its name to state voters last month that on one side asked, "When George Bush wanted to close the New London Sub Base, who was there to stop him?"

The answer, printed on the other side, was "Connecticut's Joe Lieberman," whom the flier praised not only for "saving" the sub base but also for "fighting for the needy." source: Journal-Inquirer
A 527 actually producing postive campaign literature about a candidate's record? Will wonders never cease. Ofcourse moveon.org is not exactly funded by a majority of Connecticut contributers either. The other money story in the news comes from the Courant. This story led with "Lamont Gets Little From Senate Dems", and went on to say
Senatorial committee spokesman Phil Singer insisted the party is aiding Lamont. "In campaigns where candidates have plenty of their own resources, the DSCC helps in other ways," he said. Lamont has given his campaign $12.7 million.

"In this campaign," Singer said, "the DSCC has helped with research, debate prep, and staffing among other forms of support."

But the committee is not prodding its members to give donations. Six senators' political committees did give Lamont $5,000 each: Reid, Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., Barack Obama, D-Ill., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's committee gave $1,000. Clinton also hosted a fundraiser for Lamont in Manhattan Sunday.

Notably absent were donations from committees controlled by such veteran senators as Illinois' Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Senate's second-ranking Democrat; Delaware's Joseph R. Biden Jr.; Vermont's Patrick J. Leahy; and Hawaii's Daniel K. Inouye. (source: Courant)
In reality, Senate Dems realize that gaining a majority in the Senate is more important than funding the quixotic campaign of Ned Lamont. Chris Dodd may be making commercials with Lamont, but he's sending his money elsewhere.
Dodd's political committee, CHRISPAC, and Friends of Chris Dodd, his Senate committee, have given about $700,000 to Democratic candidates and parties during the current election cycle. Since August, when Lamont became his party's nominee, Dodd has made contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; to close House races in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Vermont; and to Senate races in Montana, Rhode Island, Virginia and Tennessee.

But nothing for Lamont. (source: Courant)
The bigger money story we should be asking appeared in a Republican-American editorial.
Whatever happens to Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, on Election Day, he'll long be remembered for his campaign-finance-reform work. He crusaded long and tirelessly to dampen the corrupting influence of money on politics. And by at least two measures, he failed, mainly because he focused on the wrong problem.

Campaign spending this year will reach a record $2.6 billion, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. "That comes to an average of $59 per vote in Senate races and $35 per vote in the House," Reuters news service reported.

The real problem, as this column and others have noted many times, is the value of the service Congress provides to special interests -- about $2.6 billion worth in 2006. If Congress limited itself to its zone of constitutional authority, interest groups, businesses and industries wouldn't be in the business of buying Congress members. They wouldn't be worth the expense. (source: Republican-American)
Yes Congress is for sale. Campaign finance reform has done nothing to stop the flow of cash to members of Congress and certainly this Republican congress has done nothing to curb the outflow of tax payer money to the corporations who demand it. Whether its people-powered interests groups, or corporate-powered lobbyists, the unchecked flow of money into political campaigns is the real outrage.

Journal Inquirer, Big out-of-state donors behind 'Connecticut' group helping Lieberman, By Don Michak, 10/25/2006

Courant, Lamont Gets Little From Senate Dems By DAVID LIGHTMAN, October 25, 2006

Republican-American Torrent of cash floods campaigns, October 26, 2006

25 comments:

Shadow said...

Well said, Turfgrrl, I couldn't agree more; that is one of the main priorities I will be voting on on election day. It's one reason I'm voting for Green Party candidates for state office, who are the only people that honest about actually changing campaign finance, and also one reason I'm voting against Joe Lieberman, who has recieved several times more special interest money than any CT Senate candidate than history.

Anonymous said...

Lets Talk Money!

Joe Lieberman spent 70 Dollars per vote in his losing Primary campaign and over 80% of it came from out of state donors.

A courrier delivered to Liebermans New Haven office a package containing between 20 and 50 thousand dollars in cash every day for the last two weeks of the campaign and now 387,000 is listed as Petty cash disbursments.

Joe Lieberman and his campaign are more like mobsters than politicians.Lynn Fusco,Liebermans treasurer, should get jail time for her actions.

Anonymous said...

If Shays-Meehan had really been able to take money out of politics you don't really think it ever would have passed do you?

Genghis Conn said...

Let's see if our own campaign finance reforms have any impact when they go into effect for 2007 and 2008. I hope they'll help... but maybe they won;t.

Anonymous said...

Now we get anonymous courriers posting. Were the eagle eyed cult of Lamont carefully noting the origin of the money bags?

Anonymous said...

Simple. Ban all contributions except those that are made to political parties. If you're an independent and you want to run for office, start a political party. Second, permit distributions of campaign finance funds to individual candidates only ananoymously, so that those receiving the funds will not know the indiviudual contributors. Third, strike down as uncostitutional all campaign finace regulations. Dodd, Lieberman, et all, wil never know who their benefactors are, neither will they be able to set themselves up as petite political parties, and they can get about the business of running the country like a business -- instead of a casino.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

More slipsohod slime out of Waterbury. This time it's out of the Courthouse.
http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-marshals1026.artoct26,0,7640273.story?coll=hc-headlines-home

Anonymous said...

Does anyone here believe the 5 people wo contributed 50 grand each to this 527 cares one bit about Ct or the sub base?

Lets all see if we can figure out what these 5 people have in common?

Anonymous said...

I read the anonymous 9:49 comment before it was removed. It was both opiniated and long but hardly offensive unless I missed something. What gives with the censorship?

Anonymous said...

Why can a person contribute unlimited amount of $$$ to his own campaign (lamont) but that same person is limited in contributing to other people. Campaign finance reform is an afront to free speech and should be struck down. VT's law was struck down by the SCOTUS and CT's fiasco should be struck down as well.

Anonymous said...

GC - Anon. 9:25 hit the nail on the head. Federal campaign finance laws passed, in large part, because the politicians and political parties knew that there were ways around it.

Similarly, in CT, there are ways around our knew public financing laws. Those end arounds will be conducted by third party groups, just as it is done on the federal level. Since we still value free speech there is nothing we can do about it. What our idiot legislature has done is spend millions of our dollars on their campaigns but not solved the problem. Only now, when a candidate has reached his spending cap, he or she will not be able to repond to false accusations by a third party group.

anonymous 9:25 said...

Thanks brudder...all those years pounding nails with a hammer and I got it right for once.

Gabe said...

$387,000 in petty cash for 12 days before the primary election. Maybe its time, respectfully, to take your "Lamont=Bad, Lieberman=Good" blinders off and dig into a real story....

Anonymous said...

The 387,000 story is going..well nowhere. And will have even further nowhere to go when Joe is the victor on Nov 7th.

Just Curious said...

Gabe - I am a Sclesinger voter (that's probably why I am posting anonymously) and I have a question for you?

If Lieberman wins and joins the Democrat caucus (perhaps even being the deciding vote in who controls the majority), will Lamont and his supporters (ie Democrats in CT) continue to file complaints against Lieberman for breaking the election laws, or will everyone back off since Joe is now back in the fold?

Gabe said...

Just Curious - Obviously, I can't speak for Lamont, his campaign, or every Democrat in CT.

That said, the FEC complaint is filed and no one has any more control over it outside of the FEC - I imagine that they will take their usual 1-2 years issuing an opinion and then either exonerate the Lieberman campaign, hit them with a fine (which is really their only penalty mechanism), or refer the case on to Justice (if the investigation reveals some sort of vote-tempering). None of those are in the control of anyone besides the FEC, so I have no idea what would be the outcome.

If there is a similiar petty cash amount on the final (post-election) FEC report, I would imagine that someone would file a complaint - but I have no idea who has standing to do so (whether it has to be one of the campaigns or if it can be just an ordinary citizen).

The thing is, this kind of behavior is not really a partisan issue. If the spirit of the campaign finance laws (by spirit I mean the open nature of information on how campaign funds are spent) are allowed to be circumvented by huge petty cash funds, then they will be so circumvented by every political party. So it's in everyone who likes clean elections' interest in stopping this, because, even if it is your party doing it today, someone else will be doing it to your party tomorrow.

Just one person's take.

Just Curious said...

Thanks for the honest response Gabe. I agree.

FrankS said...

Does Lieberman repeat this practice in the general election?

Lieberman had the democratic party endorsement in the primary and still paid supporters to get out the vote. He is now faced with the additional burden of staffing polls, a more costly effort.

Anonymous said...

400 workers x $100 a day x 12 days = $480,000. Big conspiracy here.

Anonymous said...

It's not the money, but the who is being paid.

Over $100 the FEC seecks the name.

Over $600 IRS & CTDRS have a tax interest.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:40 - If it's that simple, then why won't they release the journal?

Ted Swanson said...

Gabe's right that turfgrrl should have mentioned the $387,000 petty cash issue in the discussion of finances in this election season, as specific to CT. It's a major issue and to ignore it because the MSM is, is pretty lame, considering this is a blog.

Also, the FEC has a protocol of issuing a response to any complaint within 5 days, which means either tomorrow or the next day there will be a response. If there is a response that the FEC is going to look into, it could be damaging to Lieberman in the final days of the election, regardless of Lamont's position in some polls.

Even if you support Lieberman, you should be pretty disgusted with the amount of money and what seems like a failure of over sight. His campaign, remember, is supposed to be about some sort of personal integrity. And keep in mind, Lamont reported about $500 dollars according to TPMcafe. This is irregular by all accounts.


Keep in mind the last Zogby poll has Lieberman ahead by 6 points, which ironically enough is a poll that alot of conservative pundits believe to be the most accurate.
And the Stamford Advocate/Greenwich Time poll shortly before that, had the margin much closer than the Q poll and the ARG poll.

I think Lamont has a legitimate chance to get elected, and that turfgrrl refers to it as quixotic obviously represents certain aspects of the information out there, but seems irresponsible given the schlesinger's presence in the race and that the polls all show Lamont behind at varying degrees. The Lamont ground game is an important factor that can't be figured directly into any polls and this should atleast be noted.

That poll about CTlocalpolitics endorsing candidates seems pretty irrelevent with tainted coverage like this.

turfgrrl said...

Ted Swanson: The 387k story was mentioned as its own post. This post was about the who was funding campaigns not where expenditures were going. Somebody else mentioned it earlier, but nobody gets hired by spending the entire interview time criticizing the other job candidates.

Ted Swanson said...

Firstly: you should have linked to the $387,000 post in this post.

Secondly: Incumbents records are attacked regularly. And if you are suggesting Lamont doesn't have a platform you aren't familiar with it.

Thirdly: There seemed to be sentiments of outrage over the amount of money in politics at the close of the post, thematically the petty cash expenditures seem pretty relevent.