campaign contributions

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If I Were A Rich Man

The Politico wonders whether the escalating cost of campaigning and feverish competition for donations will lead to candidates investing more of their own money in their campaigns (a potential boon in terms of viability for the wealthier candidates).

Rural Voters Shut Out By Money Chase

When the first annual National Rural Assembly convened in Chantilly, Virginia this year they invited all the presidential candidates to come, address the audience and talk about issues of concern to rural voters. Not a one showed up (and only three appeared via video), and organizers think it has a lot to do with the fact that people in rural areas aren't writing the big checks to candidates so candidates don't have time to meet with them. They discussed this in this segment on NPR this morning.

McConnell Lends Big Oil a Hand

Yesterday, Senate Republicans intervened on behalf of a put-upon, impoverished, and under-represented constituency: Big Oil. They blocked a measure that would have provided $32 billion in incentives for renewable energy via a tax on oil companies -- with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his over $450,000 in life campaign donations from the oil industry at the helm.

Going Halfway

The Politico raises an eyebrow at presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards' claims to not take contributions from federal lobbyists, asking how far this prohibition extends -- just to lobbyists? To employees of lobbying firms? The whole article really illustrates the futility of hairsplitting when it comes to talking about money's influence on elections: either we get big money out or we don't. Anything else feels equivocal.

Putting Money on the Map

The FEC just released a new tool to make the campaign finance data they have on hand more accessible to and interpretable by the public. This new map feature gives a visual representation of how campaign contributions from individuals to presidential candidates are distributed by state and by zip code. Ignore that the U.S. seems to have contracted blue measles and take a look at the map!

Side Effects May Include Spinelessness

Here's a riddle: why would the Senate pass a bill that, on the one hand, makes it harder for people to import prescription drugs (they argue it's a safety issue), and on the other hand softpedals requirements to do ongoing safety studies of on-the-market drugs, and make drug studies public? USA Today hazards a gue$$.


Spending and Lending

The Politico follows up on the report released last week by Common Cause on the escalation in political spending by mortgage lenders coupled with the rise in questionable lending practices (sub-prime and adjustable rate mortgages) that have hit low income families particularly hard. So, what does the mortgage industry have to say for itself?


(Sub)Priming the Slump

Reports abound of homeowners squeezed by their mortgage companies, and foreclosure signs springing up like weeds as the housing bubble goes "pop." Surprise, surprise: this latest assault on the homeowner was facilitated by the cosy relationship, conceived in checkbook, between mortgage lenders and lawmakers. The Common Cause Education Fund connect the dots (pdf document).


Lobbying and How It Got That Way

On Sunday The Washington Post ran the first in what is to be a 25-part profile on the growth the lobbying industry in Washington through the eyes of top Washington lobbyist Gerald Cassidy. Intended to be an analysis of how Cassidy rose through the ranks to become a player in DC, all the while helping to transform lobbying into the access-buying influence game it is today, it ought to be an illuminating peak at an industry under fire in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Giving Till It Hurts...Us.

From yesterday's Miami Herald: "Take a look at the failure of government to tackle the problems this nation confronts and then consider the way presidential elections are financed. Honk if you see a connection." The editorial cuts right to the point which is that, standard grousing about insincere campaigning aside, the way politicians seek office fundamentally impairs their ability to respond to the needs of the average voter. And it's only getting worse.