November 3, 2012

Point/Counterpoint: Outside-the-District Contributions

Ellen M. Blalock/The Post-Standard photo
So, at a debate yesterday, all three candidates for Congress in NY-24 were present, a departure from some others where only Ann Marie Buerkle, the incumbent Republican and Ursula Rozum, the long-shot Green Party designate were in attendance.  Dan Maffei, the Dem who lost last time by about as many votes as I have bottles of wine, appeared on stage with them.

(It's off-point, but how uncomfortable does he look in this photo?)

Among the topics discussed was the huge influx of outside money in this race, something that I've long opposed - candidates should not be able to accept outside money, whether from two-legged people or those other 'people' most of us outside the US Supreme Court refer to as businesses, PACs, charitable organizations, and the like.  And yes, I include unions in that last category too.

We're in the middle of a Congressional race with spending reaching the $8 million level, $4.7 million from outside the district, according to published reports.  One reason we're being flooded may be that, according to The Fix, a political blog, this race is the 11th most likely to flip , out of 60 House races the blog identifies as being 'most important' to which party ends up with control.

So when the topic of outside money flooding the district came up, the reported responses were a riot. Maffei, for instance, indicated not to worry, the money has 'no influence' on him, noting:
I am answerable to one group of people, and it's the voters of this district... I do think it's deplorable the amount of money that has come into politics... We've got to get the money out of politics.
Buerkle, for her part, defended the money she's received from 'like-minded organizations she supports', and offered this in reference to those who have supported her:
It's free speech.
And this, regarding outside money for Maffei:
I think the bigger concern should be Michael Bloomberg and the investment he is making in this race.
And finally, this, in response to the question of how the money might influence her:
I think my record speaks for itself.
Ursula Rozum does not accept outside money -- none of the Green Party candidates do.  Rozum recently donated scam contributions from Buerkle supporters to charity. 

I can't picture any of the major party candidates doing that -- if they did, they'd no longer be major party candidates.  But can you imagine the impact these millions of dollars could have in the hands of people focused on doing good work?

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