OUTLAW CAMPAIGN FINANCE

(Published in Florida Today, Oct. 13, 2017)

 

Campaign finance doesn’t need reform, it needs to be outlawed.

When a cop accepts money or favors in exchange for a special consideration, it’s called bribery. When a special interest group, or private party, contributes a huge sum to a senator or president in exchange for special considerations, it’s called politics. No big deal.

By the time presidential campaigns are over, the candidates and their political parties will have expended over two billion dollars to get elected. Think of all that could be done with that money. Millionaires, corporations and investors of all ideologies donate mega bucks to their select candidate for one main reason: to enhance their cause or their business in hopes to see legislation that will sway thinking and make them prosper.

That’s called “corruption” where I come from.

Besides direct donations, politicians have designed ingenious methods by which to suck up billions under the umbrella of legitimacy, i.e. super PACs and nonprofit foundations. Hillary Clinton raised $1.4 billion for her campaign, not counting the proceeds into the Clinton Foundation.

Without doubt, foundations seem to be legitimate methods by which to enhance a campaign through the back door. According to an article in the Washington Post in August of 2016, more than 53 percent of donors who at that time  gave $1 million or more to the Clinton Foundation were corporations, foreign citizens or governments. The groups include the government of Saudi Arabia, where women are treated as second class citizens.

The Wall Street Journal also pointed out that the foundation accepted huge sums from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman following her tenure as secretary of state. One can only imagine how that would affect a president’s decision-making if Middle East conflicts exploded and the U.S. was in a position to take sides.     

To exacerbate the problem, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 struck down limits on federal campaign donations, declaring them to be a free speech right. That’s simply lawyerese, not morality.

The tobacco industry didn’t pour zillions into Washington D.C. over the last century because of idealism. It was to lower their taxes, secure subsidies and gain profits. Nicotine was enhanced into cigarettes to keep people addicted while Washington turned a blind eye.

The economic crisis of the last decade can be traced to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG who lined political coffers to gain committee votes they needed to pursue their own greedy objectives.

We hear a lot about “earmarks” as though it’s just another part of Americana. It costs taxpayers billions. Bills are always passed with tag-ons to satisfy the whims of individual lawmakers. It’s the politicians’ way of paying back favors to their financial supporters.

 

By necessity, congressional lawmakers spend half their two-year terms not serving, but generating money for the next election. They are more adept at fundraising than they are at doing the job they are elected for. The demand for fundraising is so imperative, our last president chose to travel to an event in Las Vegas while flames still smoldered in Benghazi’s consulate and four fresh American bodies lay dead.

There is a remedy. Lawmakers in Washington should propose a constitutional amendment prohibiting any form of campaign contributions on the federal level. No money, no favors, no pleasure trips by lobbyists, no fancy dinners, no free tickets.

The responsibility for funding campaigns should lie where it belongs, with taxpayers. According to the IRS, approximately 152 million tax returns were filed in 2016. If every taxpayer paid twenty-five dollars into an “Honesty in Government” fund, it would yield nearly $8 billion bi-annually to dole out into federal campaign coffers.

Politicians would owe their allegiance to taxpayers and not special interests, and we would learn how they budget their allotments. They’d also spend less time at fundraisers and Americans would see a restoration of honesty in government.

All it would take is for politicians to pass a law. I’m not holding my breath.

12 Responses to OUTLAW CAMPAIGN FINANCE

  1. Joe October 14, 2017 at 8:35 am #

    Marshall, your proposal has great merit, but doesn’t go far enough. At the same time as your financing package is passed, the lawmakers MUST ban lobbying!! When I hear the word “lobbyist”, I feel the same revulsion as when I hear “child sexual predator”!

  2. Don G. October 14, 2017 at 9:37 am #

    A great article, but it isn’t going to happen. Politicians are never going to vote against the very thing that makes them rich.

  3. Frank Clifford October 14, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    Amen, brother, amen!!

  4. Patricia October 14, 2017 at 11:48 am #

    During the primaries, President Trump defended his donations to a variety of individuals, including Hillary Clinton, by stating “I support politicians. In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton, I supported many other people, bu the way, and that was becuase of the fact that I’m in business.”
    Smart/successful business men will support those who have the power to influence how they run their businesses.
    If there’s any hope, now is the time to make changes before things go back to the status quo.

  5. Ray Renfro October 14, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    Your analogy of the cop and the politician is right on the mark. Politicians should have to follow the same laws as a Police Officer does. Outlawing campaign contributions to politicians would be the single biggest improvement to our government.

  6. Larry Henry October 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    Trump called it right when he labeled Washington, DC the “Swamp.”
    The majority in Congress are corrupt beyond one’s ordinary imagination.
    Bob Corker is a recent example. He ushered Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran through the Senate. And just recently he pulled a fast one in Alabama where he made another tidy profit. The man is a slime the same as his counter-part, Lamar Alexander. I live in Alexander’s home county – people here can’t stand the senator.

    The majority in Congress are more concerned with reelection than they are with any of us. Trump is a breath of fresh air, and the hate him for it.

  7. Anonymous October 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    Excellent article. I do hope these comments are heard by all of our politicians. After forty years of working with various US Congressional persons I do not think any will accept responsibility or ethics when associated with money.

  8. Jack Milavic October 14, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

    Excellent article. Agree with everything you stated. Sincerely hope all politicians read this and accept their responsibilities. After forty years of working with various US Congressional persons I doubt many if any at all will admit to being paid off.

  9. George Sigrist October 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    You are right on the money. Two things have been ruining this country’s politics…..special interest groups and political correctness. We absolutely need to cease policies with which the rich “own” the politicians. This has been out of control for years and years, and, unless rules and policies are created to stop it, nothing in Washington or in our state capitals will ever change. It has been said that the U.S. has the best politicians money can buy. So true.

    Great article.

  10. Ron Fischer October 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    Campaign finances would be impacted and change overnight if we established term limits.

  11. Adamsalan October 15, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

    I understand what you’re saying, but don’t include me in the contribution of twenty-five dollars on my Federal Tax Return. I will have no part in giving money to prostitutes.
    Another great article…keep them coming Captain Frank.

  12. Paul the Patriot October 16, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    If I choose to support a pro – Christian family valued politician whom exhibits common sense, then that is how I vote with my hard earned money. To only have a right to support political candidates is via an additional government tax is not an expression of freedom. In fact it is repressive and oppressive. Freedom, true freedom is the only answer. term limits would be a good start. Perhaps a three month long congressional session per year could be another good idea.

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