Money and Politics – How to Buy a Vote
No matter how often supporters of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) – a.k.a McCain-Feingold – tell us that they got the money out of politics, every day more cash is being thrown around by national politicians.
During the 2000 election cycle, campaign finance reform was the issue. Soft money had to be removed from the political machine. It was “out of control.”
The BCRA was a mixed bag for those who wanted to remove the money from politics. It eliminated all soft money donations to the national party committees, but it also more than doubled the contribution limit of hard money, from $1,000 to $2,300 per election cycle, with a built-in increase for inflation.
In addition, the bill aimed to curtail ads by non-party organizations by banning the use of corporate or union money to pay for “electioneering communications,” a term defined as broadcast advertising that identifies a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or nominating convention, or 60 days of a general election.
This provision of McCain-Feingold, sponsored by Maine Republican Olympia Snowe and Vermont Independent James Jeffords, as introduced applied only to for-profit corporations, but was extended to incorporated, non-profit issue organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund or the National Rifle Association, as part of the “Wellstone Amendment,” sponsored by Senator Paul Wellstone.
So what we’re left with are Political Action Committees and 527s. From boston.com:
Superdelegates get campaign cash
Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor February 14, 2008 03:54 PM
Many of the superdelegates who could well decide the Democratic presidential nominee have already been plied with campaign contributions by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a new study shows.
“While it would be unseemly for the candidates to hand out thousands of dollars to primary voters, or to the delegates pledged to represent the will of those voters, elected officials serving as superdelegates have received about $890,000 from Obama and Clinton in the form of campaign contributions over the last three years,” the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reported today.
About half the 800 superdelegates — elected officials, party leaders, and others — have committed to either Clinton or Obama, though they can change their minds until the convention.
Obama’s political action committee has doled out more than $694,000 to superdelegates since 2005, the study found, and of the 81 who had announced their support for Obama, 34 had received donations totaling $228,000.
Clinton’s political action committee has distributed about $195,000 to superdelegates, and only 13 of the 109 who had announced for her have received money, totaling about $95,000.
Yeah, really got the money out of politics didn’t they? All of this is perfectly legal, but the money that I send to the NRA can’t be used for political advertising in support of my positions within 30 days of a primary, or 60 days before a general election. So much for the 1st Amendment.