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August 04, 2005

Shirley, may your tribe prosper

Got an email today from Shirley, who said ... "I for one will pay more attention now that I have the (campaign disclosure ) website. The old saying `money corrupts' should say that money gives the POWER to corrupt."

You go, girl.

Better understanding the money flow is 'bout the best defense ordinary folk can muster against it. Understanding requires facts and, yup, those disclosure websites put the facts ready at hand for anyone who wants to look.

In the Big Picture, I'd say, it's important to grasp that, although the system is shot through with corruption, many --maybe most -- of the individual transactions are not. Stands taken by candidates attract like-minded money.That's natural and right.

The issues arise when the money determines the stands. Admittedly, deciding which is which often gets to be a chicken-and-egg question. But there are guideposts.

Let's use the Illinois-side congressman, Lane Evans, for an example; which probably requires a bit of history for those many voters who weren't even born when he was first elected back in 1982.

He grew up in Rock Island, in a union household --his father was a firefighter. He did his time in the military and his undergrad studies before getting a law degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D. C.. Passing by the doors that degree opens to a young man, he came home and went to work for the local legal aid society, helping poor people and taking up causes like bettering conditions at an ancient Rock Island County jail.

So he was pretty easy to peg when he made his first Quixotic run for Congress: young, idealistic, pro-labor, willing to stand up for unpopular people and causes that tend to be lumped, rightly or not, as "liberal." There was no pretense about him; never has been. No surprise, then, that unions and cause groups tending leftward have poured a lot of money into his campaigns over the years, or that the big manufacturers have tended to put their money behind his opponents.

IF, however, he suddenly started taking gobs of money from power companies and voting against sound alternate-energy bills, it'd be time to say, "Hmmm, wonder what's going on here?"

Also, in the Big Picture, those people and groups that put money behind multiple candidates in the same race are always worthy of a raised eyebrow. Various spokesmen for such committees have said they're merely supporting the process (which leads me to say their process" is pretty lousy -- looks like influence-buying to me).

Information is power; this is the information age. Go get some:

Federal Election Commission
Illinois Board of Elections campaign disclosure.
Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board

Explore generally, or become a specialist in some race that interests you. If you find something interesting, or a mystery, share it with me, or The Inside Dope, or the Fly over at Daily Davenport Politics. The more people looking and talking, the better off we all are.

Shirley, may your tribe prosper.

Posted by jcb at August 4, 2005 09:41 PM

Comments

please never say "you go, girl" again whether ironic or not.

Posted by: the beel at August 9, 2005 07:20 PM

Ahhh ... but the days can be so bland, absent a bit of irony.

Posted by: jcb at August 10, 2005 10:09 PM