Elusive High Moral Ground with Money and Politics

In every one of our endeavors, one universal truth is that money can either be a force for good or a force for bad. However, money is merely the instrument to an end; it is the human force that yields the instrument that determines its impact.

Additionally, the determination of good versus bad is subject to each person’s individual beliefs and their world view. One of the most glaring real world examples of this dilemma is the influence of money in politics. Depending on your political position (right-center-left), party affiliation (Republican-Democrat-Independent-Third Party), or civil indifference will determine how you focus on the issue of money in politics. For either major political party to claim the higher ground on this issue is not only ridiculous, but a larger part of the problem.

Although some of you believe I sound like Captain Obvious, for many who are strongly committed to their political position or party affiliation, the statement is lost on them. The fact is both political parties are almost equally responsible for allowing the corrupting influence of money in government at all levels (town, state and federal) and all interactions (campaigning, elected governance and bureaucratic implementation). Nothing will ever be resolved to improve integrity within the system until these simple facts are understood by all.

On Monday, April 7, the Portsmouth Democratic Committee will be hosting a forum titled Saving Our Democracy — The Need for Campaign Finance Reform. The panel will consist of all Democrats, or like-minded individuals, and will solve absolutely nothing. With little doubt, the discussion will be nothing more than a bash fest against Republicans, center to right-leaning groups, and public enemy number one, the evil Koch brothers. One of the organizers of the forum is Larry Drake, chairman of the Portsmouth Democratic Committee. Mr. Drake said, “With the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and billionaires like the Koch brothers pouring millions of dollars into attack ads, this is a top priority.” Comments like this show the Democrats do not take this matter seriously, and will ignore their own culpability.

The panel’s members and the statement by Mr. Drake prove that this forum will be nothing more than the same old tired rhetoric being spewed by members of a political establishment that have contributed to the problem.

Attendees will likely not hear how Sen. Harry Reid can “gift” $29,000 to his granddaughter with money from his campaign fund, only paying back the campaign after it was reported in the news. The forum will also not discuss all the absurd things campaign funds may be spent on that the power base in D.C. has deemed “legal.”

Attendees will also not hear how President Obama single-handled destroyed public campaign funding reform in 2008. Then-candidates Sens. McCain and Obama “promised” not to accept public funding for their presidential campaigns, which would have placed a spending cap on campaign spending. Obama later broke that promise, while McCain stayed true to his word. Obama would go on to outspend McCain 4-1 in the 2008 presidential election. Most presidential candidates have been reluctant to agree to public funding limits, a pattern that will not be broken anytime soon.

Nor will attendees hear about Democrat Jeffrey Thompson, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, and his strong connection to Hillary Clinton aide Minyon Moore, who has been identified as the conduit between the Clinton campaign and Thompson’s illegal financing effort. The panel will not mention how pro-Democratic Super PAC groups such as “Ready for Hillary” and “Priorities USA” have been two of the biggest beneficiaries of the Citizens United decision. I am positive no panelist at the forum will mention (in any real significant dialogue) that the Center for Public Integrity recently described a potential presidential contender as “the Citizens United” candidate, due to the fund-raising prowess of Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Attendees hoping to hear a balanced, honest discussion on all of the corrupting influences of money in politics from all sides, including public sector unions, million dollar money bundlers, and shady/illegal collections methods will be sadly disappointed. Missing will be any mention of the recent report from the Center for Responsive Politics, that shows the top 25 groups that donated to political campaigns are “left-leaning.” None of this will be heard, because that is not the intent of the Saving Our Democracy — The Need for Campaign Finance Reform forum. The intent of the forum is to vilify those with whom they disagree, while painting themselves as the noble saviors.

This forum will solve nothing because the organizers fail to see, or choose not to care, that they are as much a part of the problem as anyone else to whom they would point the finger of indignation.

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