Campaign Beggars

I’ve mentioned recently the deluge of political emails I’ve gotten, but I haven’t dwelt on the underlying subject behind the vast majority – money.

They all want money, whatever I can give, in order to be elected or re-elected to stop the evils of their opponent or the other party.

One of my initial reactions is, why should I give you more money when all you seem to do with it is bad-mouth your opponent? [I realize there are a few candidates who don’t, but VERY few.]

The senders of these emails also all seem to think that people, individually and collectively, are a bottomless and endless source of funds, either for campaigns or for government. Or in Trump’s case, to pay his seemingly endless legal bills.

Once upon a time, I thought that the simplest campaign reform measure would be to allow unlimited contributions to specific candidates – but only from individuals whose names had to be public. But then, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, corporations effectively became persons, at least in the legal sense, in being allowed to contribute unlimited sums to entities not legally linked to political parties or candidates. On top of that, those “dark-money entities were also allowed to spend unlimited amounts in supporting or opposing specific candidates.

Then, too, recent events have convinced me that people only care about who spends inordinately on electioneering when it’s someone supporting the other side.

So, as I read the FEC rules, while an individual is limited to contributing $3,300 to a candidate for a primary election and another $3,300 for the general election, corporations can and do pour far more into “independent” political action committees and those committees can spend unlimited amounts in political ads or activities benefiting or opposing candidates for office.

In the 2022 election, United States House and Senate candidates running in the 2022 election cycle reported raising a total of $3.1 billion and spending $3.7 billion between January 1, 2021, and September 30, 2022. That averages $4 million per seat – for a job that pays $174,000 annually.

But what I want to know is with all that money floating around, why is every candidate claiming they don’t have enough funding?

5 thoughts on “Campaign Beggars”

  1. Bill says:

    In the age of high powered analytics, it is because those requests generate the best response.

    My preferred solution is that a company cannot contribute more than they paid in taxes the past year. If they didn’t pay any income taxes, then they shouldn’t be able to contribute to anyone’s campaigns.

    1. I like that idea! Unfortunately, I suspect that the current Supreme Court would find it a restriction of “free speech.”

    2. R. Hamilton says:

      That mostly makes sense!

      But government imposes both taxes and regulatory burdens, and while regulations favoring certain businesses (except time-limited for compelling security or supply chain reliability reasons) are obnoxious, so are those disfavoring a lawful business, or where the cost/benefit is on the expensive side.

      An entity might reasonably seek to be heard speaking against excesses of either sort of burden.

      I suspect that a lobbyist for some entity that has not made any donations will be noted and largely ignored except insofar as their concerns align with those of some entity that has made substantial donations.

  2. Postagoras says:

    I guess a ton of that money goes to media ads, and polling. The inescapable “horse-race” that informs all the reporting requires candidates to catch fire as early as possible.

  3. Grey says:

    I think it has become worse in part due to the widening lack of scrutiny. The Federal Elections Commission is asleep at the wheel by permanent deadlock. Look at leadership PACs, which have become virtually unregulated slush funds.[1]. By saying the right magic words in the fine print disclosures on the donation website, the money can be funneled with few limits. For example, Trump-aligned organizations spent $55 million in donations on attorneys fees for him, and many associates in the various civil and criminal matters against him and yet it won’t be taxed a dime. It’s amazing that it’s legal, and yet it appears to be.


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