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Outside dollars, outside masters.

April 19, 2017

Congress still isn’t getting high marks for carrying out the voters’ wishes, and the congressional gridlock isn’t likely to get better any time soon.  Surprise, surprise.

Given how these people wind up in Washington, your U.S. Congressional representative or senator is less likely than ever to give a flying fig about you, a fact brought home by the Georgia election.

Various sources report that Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign PAC received an unprecedented $8,320,693 to flip Tom Price’s House seat. Also anecdotally, since final campaign financials haven’t been filed yet, less than two thousand dollars of that amount was contributed directly to Mr. Ossoff by individual contributors.

Contrast that with the $463,744 reported on the pre-Special FEC report for Mrs. Handel, the GOP winner, who raised less than one-quarter of the amount raised by the GOP big spender, Dan Moody.

In fact, all the Sixth District GOP candidates together didn’t raise eight million dollars.

Since this was just the preliminary round to the “real” election on June 20, there is no doubt all these figures will balloon again.

In view of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United ruling in 2010, all of that is perfectly legal, but it does make one wonder how committed to his district’s residents Mr. Ossoff, or for that matter, Mrs. Handel on the GOP side, could possibly be if elected.

Many people feel that given the immense cost of running for office, allowing nonprofit groups to collect and spend money for a candidate is the only fair way to prevent candidates themselves from banking the donations. In other words, it is supposed to make campaign financing less open to direct graft.

A laudable goal, but it hardly guarantees a candidate’s future fealty to the local voters.

No matter how you spin it, Mr. Ossoff did very, very well, coming within 1.9 points (plus one vote) of upsetting the GOP apple cart.

Obviously money spent doesn’t always guarantee a win, as the Trump-Clinton contest proved last year.  Mrs. Clinton’s campaign outraised and outspent President Trump’s campaign by almost half a billion dollars, as of figures reported as of December 31.

On a national scale, maybe that seemingly obscene figure doesn’t shock you. But six million dollars already spent in a race for a seat in a district that Ballotpedia reports has only 699,103 souls, including children?

If current reporting is correct after the vote is certified, just 88,562 people voted for Mr. Ossoff in this pre-election popularity contest. That may be 48.1 per cent of the votes cast, but it is only 12% of the district’s population.

The obvious answer to fairer, or perhaps more representative voting is to restrict campaign funding to the residents of the district and state to be represented.

But of course if we did that, what in the world would folks like Samuel L. Jackson and Jane Fonda have to talk about, or spend money on?

From → op-ed

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