It's totally David Donnelly day in the papers -- this op-ed for the Denver Post, authored by David in his capacity as Director of Public Campaign Action Fund's Campaign Money Watch project, goes in to the relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff that Colorado Senate candidate, and former U.S. Representative Bob Schaffer (R) would rather keep quiet. And its no wonder, dealings with Abramoff have sunk more than a few political careers.
Schaffer was one of the members of Congress to go on Abramoff's junket (sorry, "fact-finding mission") to the Northern Marianas Islands where, in between parasailing jaunts, he met with the owners of factories on the island notorious for their abusive labor practices that make life a nightmare for the largely female labor force. Those factory bosses later donated to his campaign. Schaffer has refused to acknowledge the error of his ways. Will he pay the political price like Ralph Reed, and former Reps. Tom DeLay and Bob Ney before him?
But if Schaffer wants to limit his damage, he should stop trying to shoot the messengers, and instead grapple with the substance of the issue at hand. He ought to unabashedly repent, first for his actions, and then for defending a campaign finance system that puts the interests of lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and political donors like factory owners in the Northern Marianas ahead of those, like exploited workers, who need government to listen to them.
He can do it by apologizing for failing to help those who needed it most - the workers, not the factory owners who gave to his campaign and the politicians he met - and pledge to make amends. Giving five percent of his campaign's donations to charity on the islands, or pledging to support human and worker rights legislation if elected, would be positive steps to demonstrate that he has repented.
Then he should get behind real reform of the political money chase. Good people running for high office are caught in a terrible system that places an inordinate amount of pressure on them to raise large sums of money.