Sell A Vote = Bad, Sell An Endorsement; Not So?

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By Chuck Ring (GadaboutBlogalot ©2009 – 2010)

Quote Freely From The Article – Leave The Pseudonym Alone

We all know that lobbyists, in effect, if not directly, contribute money for favorable treatment from a member, or members of Congress.  Payments where there is no question as to the intent, i.e., buying a vote or votes are against the law.  But, how about a Congressperson soliciting and then accepting money for a political endorsement by the Congressperson.  According to the Sunlight Foundation, in a blog article by Lindsay Young.  the latter is just what at least one member of Congress  is doing,  and she  has done so in earlier years:

Longtime Democratic lawmaker Maxine Waters has perfected an unusual tactic for fundraising over the years – getting candidates, including some of California’s most prominent political figures, running for state and local offices, to pay as much as $45,000 for her endorsement on election mailers. In this election cycle alone, Waters has raised 59 percent of her campaign’s treasury through these “slate mailers.”

What’s more, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) says it is perfectly legal, although many, if not most of the payments surpass the amount allowed under FEC authority.  Purchasers for Ms. Waters’ endorsements are numerous and run the gamut from municipal candidates or causes to congressional candidates and  other causes:

Waters, who has been in Congress for more than three decades, routinely sends out mailers endorsing a list of other candidates and ballot initiatives she supports. In the 2010 cycle, she has raised more than $295,550 out of a total of $497,300 through these mailers. And getting on one of her slate mailers doesn’t come cheap—to be featured on the “Citizens for Maxine Waters” slate, candidates pay anywhere between $250 and $45,000.

Friends of Barbara Boxer, the campaign committee for Sen. Boxer, D-Calif., paid $5,000 for an endorsement. Gloria Romero, the former Senate Majority Leader running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, chipped in $25,000. Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco and a candidate for lieutenant governor, and Kamala Harris, San Francisco’s district attorney and a candidate for state attorney general, have kicked in $45,000 and $25,000 respectively. Dave Jones, candidate for State Insurance Commissioner, invested $25,000.

Perhaps some causes, and some politicians aren’t worth charging for, or Ms. Waters deems them so worthy, she donates her endorsement without collecting a single penny.  The forgoing aside,  a representative from the FEC has said:

Christian Hill, an FEC spokesperson, said that money paid for slate mailers “…is exempt from the definition of ‘contribution’ and ‘expenditure’ under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).” Like the interest campaigns earn from a bank account or investment income they might receive if they’ve invested in stocks, slate mailers are income to the campaign, usually categorized as “other” in FEC summaries and by other organizations that aggregate contributions data like the Center for Responsive Politics.

Congress, or some members at least, grunt their success at doing away with pork and they also crow about their success at revising campaign law for the benefit of the citizens and the detriment of the  crooked lobbyists and other spoilers.  I believe it can be said, based on the report from the Sunlight Foundation,  congress has given us hoaxes of the cruelest sort.  If actions, such as those taken by Ms. Waters are  allowed … why waste the efforts of Congress and the money of taxpayers.

There is much more to read in the Sunlight Foundation article.  You really should read it.  If for no other reason than to see how Congress manages to betray American citizens while selling them a bill of goods.

Here’s the link to the rest of the story.