Confidence in the political system is at all-time lows. Disgust in Congress is at all-time highs and scandal grips the executive branch. Grim times for those that still care in America. But real efforts at fundamental reform exist! Yes, we’re talking national, organized, and well-funded efforts that go beyond the snake-oil being sold by the major political parties.
If you haven’t already, take a look at NoLabels.org and Rootstrikers.org.
If you want cleaner political campaigns, these are dark days. And they are only getting darker. Oozing onto the darkness is section 501(c)4 of the tax code that theoretically sets up civic leagues (that sounds nice) and non-profit corporations to help promote “social welfare.” Ooooo, that sounds swell! Here’s the kicker: they’ve become havens for political donors to SECRETLY donate big bucks to political campaigns!
Well, it looks like the GOP in Missouri is keeping up with the Dems when it comes to shallow, unethical, disregard for common decency – especially when it comes to the taxpayer’s expense. (Kinder Spends Time in St. Louis at Taxpayers Expense). As the column by Jason Sandoval below emphasized, it’s not really the amount of money that’s involved. Kinder’s greed is not going to come close to bankrupting the state. It’s the principle involved. You’re a public servant. You cannot profit from your position and it should be unconscionable of you to use your official position for fundraising and other various partisan pimping. Shame takes a holiday, indeed.
Gordon Gekko in the famous movie Wall Street said, “Greed is good.” As with greed, humans are saddled with shame on occasion. But that’s not always a bad thing. Like greed, I suppose, sometimes “shame is good.” Shame keeps us from doing bad/sleezy things. But increasingly, we’re seeing people carry on as if shame is no longer in their internal equations. Nowhere is this more true than in politics. Let’s look at some recent Show-Me examples:
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, fresh off his push for a “code of ethics” among County employees, finds no shame in hiring the son of his former chief of staff, John Temporiti. Despite the County’s supposed “hiring freeze”, 27-year old Mike Temporiti landed a $70,000 job with the county. Should Mr. Dooley feel shame? Ah, the shameful-devil appears in the shameful-details:
A baby step of sorts was taken toward needed reform last week when the Democratic National Committee announced that the Democrats wouldn’t be taking corporate, PAC, or lobbyist money to fund their national convention in Charlotte next year. Sounds good especially since it fulfills a campaign pledge by President Obama.
Though such a change in tact is needed – and appreciated – it’s more show than real reform. Though national convention hosting committees usually take in tons of cash from corporate fat cats, this change in policy does NOTHING to stop these same deep-pocketed contributors from continuing their assault on state parties and their money-hungry delegations.
Sorry. We suppose we suddenly got possessed by the ghost of Keith Olbermann. Rep. Tim Jones certainly isn’t the WORST person in Missouri. I’m sure we can find some meth-crazed-serial-killer that fits that description. But he might just be the most ethically-hypocritical public official in the state. As pointed out by the Tanner Report, Rep. Jones has taken in over $2,600 in gifts from lobbyists in the past two months. Here’s the kicker: Rep. Jones is the new Chairman of the House Ethics Committee. Sorry if that made you throw up in your mouth a little.
The controversy with the recent Comcast/NBC merger deserves its own attention. But for those of us in the Show-Me state the Post-Dispatch has uncovered an added subplot: Comcast’s "thank-you
bribe contribution" to our state Attorney General.
The new U.S. Senate this week is debating whether to reform the way it does business – specifically with the way it deals with the “filibuster.”
Derived from the Spanish word “filibustero” which roughly translated means “pirate” – the filibuster allows the minority to block Senate action by the majority. Whereas in the real world a majority of 100 is 51, to control the Senate you need 60 votes. In the Senate, being in the minority has its privileges.
Missouri Democrats are shell-shocked. They’ve been knocked out by a GOP tidal wave. Inevitably after such a loss, parties assess the damage, wring their hands, point fingers, make excuses, then proceed – usually upon the same path that led them to defeat.
Nationally, that’s what the defeated Republicans started to do after the 2008 Obama-led Democratic victory. But instead of wandering in the political wilderness for a long period, they quickly found direction with the “Tea Party.”
American elections are dependent upon private money. We all get that. It’s an addiction – nay, an obsession – that won’t be broken anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about our responsibility to keep track of the money that flows into the pockets of candidates.
Charlie Dooley has some overflowing pockets these days. But the interesting thing is that his chief contributor – nay, his chief sponsor – is one particular individual: Gagillionaire Rex Sinquefield.