campaign contributions

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New Players, Old Game

Hillary Clinton seems to be collecting a lot of donors from an unusual demographic: a transient group of immigrants in New York's Chinatown. This article in the Los Angeles Times is interesting in its exploration of why this population gives such large sums relative to its income, what forces are compelling this surge in donations by a population that seldom votes, and how social pressure and hope for personal gain fuel political giving.

Next Norman?

NPR's Marketplace picked up the story of Bill Allen, the VECO Inc. CEO who admitted using campaign contributions to win influence with Congress, and $200 million in contracts. The report notes Allen's plan for VECO and its employess to direct donations to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in particular Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). Most of the money hasn't been returned.

Some Circumstantial Evidence Is Strong

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post speculates, via strategically-placed parentheses, about the interest of certain members of Congress in holding Blackwater and other defense contractors accountable for their actions in Iraq. Are the contributions lining their campaign coffers causing some legislators to look the other way?

 

Maybe the F is Silent

Continuing on their quest to make elections about money instead of voters, the Center for Competitive Politics has a letter published in DC newspaper, The Hill, this morning about the need for higher limits on campaign contributions.

 

In the letter, Mike Schrimpf states, "increasing contribution limits, or eliminating them entirely, would greatly diminish the need for bundlers."

 

Money Drowns in Blackwater

Investigations into the activities of the Blackwater private security firm in Iraq have revealed a critical lack of oversight when it comes to defense contractors receiving billions in appropriations from the federal government while greasing the wheels with well-placed campaign contributions. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jim Webb (D-VA) have introduced legislation to rectify this shortcoming.

Sick Priorities

Forty-seven million Americans don't have health insurance, and 8.7 million of them are children according to just-released census data. The numbers signal a disturbing trend: the number of uninsured are rising (even as the median income rises) and still President Bush is vocal in his opposition to expanding a program that could extend insurance to 5 to 6 million children, by levying higher taxes on tobacco products.

Equity in this case means "loaded"

Private equity firms and hedge funds are big business. These arrangements have made their owners and contributors billionaires. Washington started to notice and about the same time, these firms also started making sure they were noticed by Washington--through their campaign contributions.

 

This year donations are soaring--twenty senior managers have given $360,000 to party committees and candidates so far in 2007. This is close to the total $470,000 given in 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

 

So that's why he kept them a secret

Yesterday, the Washington Post cleared up a little bit of the confusion of who served on Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force back in the beginning of the administration. He wouldn't tell and the Supreme Court agreed that he could keep the names a secret.

Small Checks, Big Changes

E.J. Dionne heralds the rise of the small donor in today's Washington Post, pointing to the Supreme Court drubbing of campaign finance regulation and Barack Obama's successful online small-donor fundraising efforts as evidence that new methods must be explored to adjust the balance of campaign contribution power.

What Does Money Buy

Shankar Vedatam writes in the "Department of Human Behavior" feature in the Washington Post about what exactly campaign contributions buy you on Capitol Hill: he says it's not a matter of buying votes, but of "cutting in line" as it were when it comes to setting legislative priorities.

 

Vedatam cites this anecdote to illustrate the distinction: