Friday, March 4, 2011

Rory Be Gone? Get to the Root of It

"The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil"- 1 Timothy 6:10, Bible

It's saddening to see this...

In one of the most brazen schemes in Nevada history, gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid’s campaign formed 91 shell political action committees that were used to funnel three quarters of a million dollars into his campaign, circumventing contribution limits and violating at least the spirit – and maybe the letter – of the laws governing elections.

Reid, who was fully aware of what was done, essentially received more than $750,000 from one PAC – 75 times the legal limit -- after his team created dozens of smaller PACS that had no other purpose other than to serve as conduits from a larger entity that the candidate funded by asking large donors for money. Indeed, the shell PACs were formed in the fall and dissolved on Dec. 31, after they had served their short-term function, which was to help the candidate evade campaign contribution laws.

Reid solicited donations for the Economic Leadership PAC, which raised more than $800,000 over a five-month period – donations that were then disbursed in $10,000 increments to dozens of other PACS, which quickly funneled the money back to the candidate’s campaign account.

But why would any of us really be surprised? This is the system we have, and the politicians who raise the most corporate money are rewarded.

Already, we are hearing of "OUTRAGE!!!" over this... But this is merely the symptom. Hardly anyone in Carson City wants to talk about the disease.

Hmmm... I wonder why?

Nevada’s campaign finance laws are written to favor incumbents and the special interests that fund them — and that won’t change any time soon.

Let’s say a candidate is weighing a run against an incumbent and wants to know how much money the office-holder has. That’s nearly impossible because candidates for office aren’t required to report money in the bank.

Perhaps a constituent wants to see who is funding a candidate’s campaign before deciding how to vote. Even getting that basic information can prove tricky. Many reports are written by hand and are suspiciously hard to read.

The reports also can’t be searched electronically, making it difficult to track an individual donor’s contributions.

Critics also take issue with the schedule for releasing candidates’ contribution and expense reports.

For years, Ross Miller has lobbied The Legislature to reform our horribly antiquated Nevada campaign finance laws to make them more transparent. But for some reason, it keeps getting killed.

Hmmm... I wonder why?

Maybe instead of screaming about the symptoms, we should look at the disease.

And what might be the disease, you ask? Go back to the top of this diary.

Must we really keep asking what the problem is? It's all the corporate money flooding our system, buying and selling candidates to the highest bidder, and silencing all those who can't afford to bribe their way into power. We are now seeing this on the national level with the Koch family and their fellow "Tea Party, Inc." comrades in bloated checkbooks trying to buy wholesale control of our entire government, but it seems Nevada has been plagued by this kind of manipulation for even longer.

[Now Senator] Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said campaign finance reform is unlikely without constituent pressure.

“The only way it’s going to happen is if the public demands it,” she said. “The people who benefit the most from loose campaign finance rules are those in elected office.”

The ultimate solution to the state’s transparency problems, Leslie said, is public financing of campaigns.

“If you take the money out, you’ll get a lot more qualified people to run for office,” she said. “You’ll take away the power of special interests, who will not have as much influence.”

Sheila Leslie is right. And so is Bill Moyers. So who else is listening?

Instead of whining about the symptoms, we need to take on the disease. In the near term, it helps to have a better idea of who is donating to whom. And in the long term, we need to make people understand that the only way to clean the system is to clean the money supply.

So before I hear anyone else screaming about what Rory Reid did or didn't do, or whatever new campaign money scandal soon emerges, I want to hear real solutions. Like Clean Money. Seriously, it's time to put up or shut up.

No comments:

Post a Comment