Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'm wondering about the ethics of a $50 campaign limit.

I promised I would look at Sheila Simon's platform document for mayor and thought we could start right at the top "Integrity in campaigning". Here is the first post in this thread. Sorry for the delay, I'm working hard at BoundlessGallery.com these days and have other issues that are distracting me from amusing the blog readers.

I read the DE a couple of days ago and noticed that Sheila has raised $9800 or so thus far. It looks like her platform document calls for a $50 limit and publication of the names of all givers. That got me thinking.

When Chuck Grace ran for judge a couple of years ago, he ran against a Murphysboro based lawyer who also claimed to have a $50 limit. At the time, I felt Grace's opponent did it as a campaign marketing device. He knew about how much he was going to spend, he could afford it, so maybe claiming a limit might be a tactic that would work. The Green Party does this too, but my feeling is that is part of their culture. The Greens like being poor as church mice, it make them more righteous or something.

My question about the Carbondale mayor's race is this, it is more ethical to take money from a bunch of local business people or from the State of Illinois Democratic Party? I have no doubt that I would rather have my politicians beholden to local people then the Illinois Republicans or Democrats (for the record, I have been a Democrat when I lived on the West Coast, but please don't lump me in with the Illinois Democrats).

When Sheila claims a campaign limit and calls it Integrity, then turns around and uses the Illinois Democratic machine to raise $10k, is that ethical? If everyone followed her rules, wouldn't that give the Demo's that much more power and make them that much more corrupt? Please don't ask me "How corrupt are they? We will save that until after Blogo is arrested."

I have written in this blog before about corruption in Illinois and how campaign limits are important. But, I don't think $50 is the right number for that limit. A better number would be $1000 or $5000 per person and no corporate gifts. A $50 limit means that the creatures of the political parties would have a huge advantage.

I don't know if Sheila is trying to lever her $50 limit into some huge advantage. My feeling from reading her plan is that she views the world, from her position of privilege, through very rosy glasses. More about that in the next few entries.

Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...

What kind of nonsense is this? Simon is advantaged by a lower contribution limit because she is a "creature of the party?" She won't raise as much money as Hot Pants Cole (yes, he distributes pink hot pants with his name on them) and she has the advantage? Logic meet trash bin.

What's even more ludicrous is that idea that it's better to be beholden to local interests than to a large number of small contributors. This is precisely the logic that ruled campaign finance law in America prior to the 1970s. There isn't a soul alive outside of Brad Cole and Peter Gregory who think that fat cats are the way to go (and yes, $5000 contributions are fat cats when you raise about thirty grand).

I'm obviously a Simon supporter, but I don't have a problem with Cole raising money in large chunks because he's not breaking the law (there). That's fine. But let's not pretend that its more ethical to make yourself beholden to large contributors.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Certainly she is trying to gain advantage by calling for an artificial campaign limit and then using her father's political connections to raise lots of money anyway. You can't disagree with that can you?

I know that in the movies that you can be a "fat cat" and buy politicians in small towns, that everyone will give you their very soul for a few $100 bills. I'm here to tell you that it really doesn't work that way in the real world very often. Part of the reason is that the average American is rich by any reasonable measure, so their soul isn't for sale.

Now when you are talking about the kind of money that SIU BOT members give to the political parties (it was over $1M for John Simmons right?), those people might be buying themselves a handle. Of course, we are talking about Illinois state political parties now and they are dirty.

What having a lot money in Illinois politics buys you is fear that you will fund a future foe at a very high level. Say writing a check for $30k to a Carbondale mayor's race, that is what needs to be stopped.

Our anonymous poster has created an interesting fiction about the power of money. I kind of wish it was true (I haven't noticed the ground shaking when I walk down the street). What is really true is the power of hard work and being smart. That is the common thread of the wealthy in Southern Illinois and the rest of America. Being smarter and working harder buy you a whole bunch of knowledge and credibility, you might try it.

I have written this before, but it is a pleasure to write this blog. Since I started writing it no one accuses me of being lucky. It has been clearly displayed that I see the world in a clear and different way. This is a first for me, I have never been called a fat cat before. I think I kind of like it, if you know me you would laugh along with me about it.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

Could you please elaborate on the inclusion of "(there)" in your sentence: "I'm obviously a Simon supporter, but I don't have a problem with Cole raising money in large chunks because he's not breaking the law (there)."

Are we to infer that you believe that Brad Cole has broken the law? FWIW, I am agnostic as far as the candidates are concerned.