Thursday, March 01, 2007

Laundering Money Political Style or how do you raise $50 lots of times

Here is how the world works in Illinois. There are no campaign giving limits, so people give lots of money to a party. The party in turn, gives treats to the big donors in the form of sweetheart laws, grants or drivers licenses. The party uses the money to hire people to do work, send out mailers, call, organize and do marketing. When the party decides to support a candidate, they start to deploy the money and/or the time of the paid employees. I think we can all agree with this, right?

So, if a political party doesn't give any cash to a candidate, but deploys a number of personnel off their payroll to help, should that count as a campaign contribution? For most candidates this isn't a problem, they don't get statewide support for a local race, they never claim to be running a campaign of ethics that limits contributions. The accept all the help they can get and everyone is playing the game on the same playing field.

What happens when a candidate says they have a campaign giving limit, but accepts thousands of dollars of paid support from a political party? What happens if the political party gives them $25,000 of work support from paid staffers, phone bank support, plus mailings? What happens when the paid staff organizes a fund raiser using party funds, then collects funds for the "clean" candidate?

Isn't this just a laundering of the "Fat Cat" big buck gifts into a local election? Of course, this is legal in Illinois. The problem is when you make a campaign issue of only taking $50 and are still taking work as "in kind" gifts from a party.

If there was a law that limited campaign gifts to $50, this laundering of money should be illegal. I have no problem with a campaign limit, but then don't accept the large "in kind" work while claiming you are clean.

Maybe someone will claim that all work by a political party shouldn't count toward elections the party is involved in. But this election specifically excludes parties to stop this kind of nonsense.

I'm dying to hear what you have to say. Come on down.


Gary Walkup said...

I think that Brad's sign vandals ought to meet Sheila's sign vandals in open combat at the site of the former American Tap.

and a pint of Sam Adams seem like an excellent idea!

Anonymous said...

Capital suggestion, Gary.

On to serious business...pray tell, which Democratic party operatives are running Sheila's campaign? You don't say that, but you've implied as much. Put your money where your mouth is. You like to play this "implication" game where you don't say "Sheila does this..." but clearly leave that as your implication. She hasn't received "thousands of dollars" in support from anyone, including mailings and phone banking.

And you keep pretending Brad isn't getting help from the Republican party and is all local. Ain't true. Simply ain't true. (Cite: Capitol Fax, just two weekends ago.) Take your head out of the sand, he's just as much a product of the Republican party as Sheila is of the Democratic party. Heck, if George Ryan wasn't in jail do you really think Brad wouldn't have had him doing something for him? I guess he'll just have to settle for Tom Cross and the rest of the dysfunctional GOP party in Springfield.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Let's start with Brad, because it is easier. Brad has promised to follow the campaign laws and act ethically. He seems to be doing that. He never said that he was going to limit contributions in a special way, just follow the law.

Sheila has exposed a double edged sword with her ethical $50 contribution limit. She wants to have it both ways, pound the table about how ethical her campaign limit is and have the money she needs to run her campaign too. Let's make an educated guess about how you hold a campaign fund raiser in Chicago, if you are from Carbondale. You call your Chicago Demo buddies and they put their people on it. Speed dials are used, favors called, etc. That costs money. I have been to quite a few high powered fund raisers and there are Democratic handlers all over the place. They are being paid by the party to be there. Where does that money come from? From the Democratic coffers, and that money doesn't have a spending limit. You get it? So, the ethically "dirty" Democratic Party money is used to raise Sheila's clean $50 bills. Is what Sheila is doing illegal, absolutely not.

Brad doesn't have this double edged sword of ethics. He has told us that he will use his Republican party friends if it is legal. He also didn't promise something and use a legal argument to work around it.

I certainly agree that Brad is a Republican and Sheila is a Democrat and if that is all you care about, then you know how to vote now. But if you want the best thing for Carbondale and not the Democratic party, maybe it is time to think things over?

I used to think that the Republicans of Illinois were crooked and the Democrats were better. I think our years with Hot Rod have shown that really isn't any difference. It is true that Ryan should/will go to jail, but it sure looks like Blagojevich will have the same cell a few years after Ryan is done with it. The good news is that both parties have lots of good people, working hard, trying to do the right things. But being on top in Illinois sure seems to make you dirty.

I never said that Sheila's campaign is being run by the democratic party, her campaign documents are such poor quality you know it was done locally. But she is using that machine to raise money and is right on the ethical line because of it.

When talking about Illinois politics, I have to believe the state is going the wrong way.

Anonymous said...

This is completely nonsensical. The *only* difference between Brad and Sheila on fundraising is the limit. Accordingly, she will have a more difficult time raising money *and* it is a guarantee that she doesn't owe anyone any favors. The only ethics that matter in fundraising is the possibility of a quid pro quo and its clear one candidate has less obligation to others than the other candidate.

You only get close to making the claim that Sheila is less ethical if you ignore the fact that the GOP supports Brad as much (if not more) than Sheila or if you want to pretend that $50 from a Chicago Democrat is somehow more damaging than a thousand from a local party that has a direct interest in the outcome of city business.

I suppose the good news for me is that all but a stubborn few see the validity of that logic.

How about this -- let's call Cindy Canary and ask her who she thinks is taking the most ethical approach? She'll tell you its a no brainer.



Peter in Carbondale said...

You are right, the only difference is the promise of a special level of ethics, while not following that special level of ethics when it gets in the way. One person promises to be ethical and does it. The other promises to be extra ethical, but doesn't jump over that bar. One makes a promise and delivers and the other makes a promise and doesn't really do what they promised.

I have a joke about this, but I don't have time to write it up now.