Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Money and Politics

What is the difference between a bribe and a campaign contribution? I must admit that sometimes it is difficult to tell. As I mentioned in a previous article, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives opined that money was the ‘mother’s milk’ of politics. Certainly I cannot disagree. Unfortunately, recent decisions and attitude of too many members of Congress have changed about money used in politics.

For decency in politics one of the worst Supreme Court opinions in recent history has been delivered by the current right wing Supreme Court: Citizens United.

I have always thought the amount of money spent by a candidate on a political race is somewhat self-regulating. Those that flood the markets with ads and lavish spending would always raise the suspicion as to where and how they obtained so much money to be spent on a low paid political office. I also believe the source of money and the knowledge thereof is much more important in making a decision about choosing an elected official than the amount of money spent. Unfortunately, Citizens United laid waste to both of these fears.

Citizens United has made it a whole lot easier for money to influence politics. First of all, the Court declared that corporations are the same as people and that people have a right to express themselves in a political contest. The Court then went on to say that money in and of itself spent on politics amounted to free speech. It also removed the requirement for office seekers to report the source of campaign money received from corporations.

If money is speech, then the Supreme Court has armed well-healed politicians a megaphone to use during their campaign while poor politicians must remain silent. Further, if corporations are people, they should be taxed in the same manner as individuals and be subject to the same rules and regulations when it comes to contributing for politics. I wonder if a giant corporation is the same as a person, would it be possible for that corporation to be subject to jail time.

For a long time I have advocated the way to assure ethical handling of money in politics is to pay officeholders at the highest level for the office they hold equal to similar requirements for the same efforts in the private sector. Following a decent salary raise, politicians should be prohibited from any other outside income, period. This is simply another one of my wonderful ideas that will not take place during my lifetime.


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