And my Tea Party was hateful?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama and Special Interests

I can not get over Barrack Obama’s claim that he does not take money from PACs. I have read his napkin sketch (aka Obama’s Blueprint for America) over a dozen times. My disagreement with his policies are continually over shadowed by the primary claim of the document, “Unlike other candidates Obama’s campaign refuses to accept contributions from Washington lobbyists and political action committees.”. This single statement is not a political exaggeration but a whopper of a lie walking the finest line of campaign finance laws. Lobbyists and Political Action Committees are not at fault for the state of our union. Our politicians are. Since the founding of our Democracy, individuals and groups have tried to sway the opinion or lobby elected leaders. In my daily life, I have lobbied my boss for a raise, lobbied my boss to be given a certain assignment, lobbied my boss to receive additional staffing resources on a project and lobbied my boss to take action on a small issue between staffers prior to it becoming a major issue. My boss, the leader of our capitalistic clan, used his judgment and decided which of my ideas were valid. Asking my boss to do something is not evil, wrong or illegal. If my boss were to show preference to my requests over what is appropriate for the firm as a whole would be wrong. Our elected officials are responsible for not being leaders and separating the needs of special interests from what is best for the nation.
Barrack Obama does more than take money from PACs, he is the chairman the HOPE fund. The homepage to the HOPE fund has been redirected to the Obama campaign website, but the body of the website remains accessible. In the 2008 election cycle to HOPE fund spent total of $624,652 ($291,000 of which was spent on congressional elections). Official FEC documents on the HOPE fund can be accessed at the FEC website. The FEC does not require the board members of the PAC to be part of the public record. Obama is now using his trust to funnel campaign funds into swing states. Joseph Biden is using his Unite Our States PAC to transfer funds to key states and skirt campaign finance laws. In contrast to the Democratic ticket, McCain’s Straight Talk PAC has stayed out of the congressional races and transferred less than $10,000 to other PACs. I have been unable to locate any Pac associated with Sarah Palin. During her gubernatorial campaign, Palin took contribution from powerful groups such as Dentists of Alaska, The Alaska Corrections Officers Association and the Alaska Laborers Local 341. These influence peddling organizations will undoubtedly hold sway over Plain when she goes to Washington (sarcasm implied). Palin’s finances can be reviewed at the Alaska Public Commission Website.
Moveon.org is one of the most widely know PACs in the country. Move on has developed new strategies to assist the Obama campaign including organizing phone banks and selling t-shirts (see the following emails from Moveon.org "Host Obama Party", "Attend an Obama Party" and "Obama T-Shirt"). With all of these campaign actions on behave of Obama, how can he claim he does not benefit from PACs? Pro-Obama literature and anti-McCain literature is all over Move On’s homepage. The "Host an Obama Party" email has a link to donate the the Obama's Presidential run. The Obama Campaign shows that Move On has contributed $347,463. Move On’s expenditure report shows more than $1.5 million being given to the Obama Campaign. Move on is using it’s website to solicit donations and then earmarks the donations to the Obama Campaign. The earmark contributions are treated as individual contributions, which allow Move On to contribute far more than the $5,000 limit per candidate per election cycle. While this is a clever tactic, it insults the intentions of campaign finance laws. Any organization that contributes more than a million dollars to a candidate will expect a seat at the Obama table. Will Obama have the leadership to veto Move On’s suggestions when the countries’ best interests are not represented?
Act Blue allows any average Joe with a computer to become a campaign fundraiser. Act Blue’s website claims to have contributed over $700,000 to Obama for America. When examining the expenditures of Act Blue, only a little over $450,000 dollars is claimed in the expenditure detail. The Obama for America committee does not have to claim the money from Act Blue, because once again the majority of the donations are earmark contributions.
The independant expenditures on behalf of Barrack Obama and against John McCain are will into the seven digits. Many pundits have focused on the amount of these expenditures and claim these expenditures prove a connection between Obama and special interests groups. Making this connection is a very dangerous road to walk, which puts free speech and freedom of the press at risk. Despite the impropriety of the expenditures, an individual or group has the right to purchase air time to discuss issues that are important to their institution. While I find the actions dishonest, these actions are protected by the constitution. Despite the appearance of impropriety focusing on one group's desire to interject themselves into the Presidential election is the right of all citizens n a democracy.
The Obama campaign has reaped the fiscal rewards of various special interests groups hovering on the sidelines of the campaign. Groups and individual have and will always attempt to affect the outcome of an election. The onus of responsibility falls with the candidate not the individual trying to assert influence. If the Obama campaign is unwilling to admit their association with these groups, how can we expect Obama to stand up against these groups? If Obama does not have the testicular fortitude to acknowledge these groups are supporting him financially, how can we expect him to stand up for our interests as President?

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