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ETHICS: Campaign Funding

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posted on Aug, 8 2004 @ 07:01 PM
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With the recent Democratic Convention and candidates now touring the country there was a large amount of money donated to campaign funds. In July alone, Kerry raised 37 million, Bush 13 million and Nader almost 500 thousand dollars. Since each candidate filed their campaigns with the Federal Election Commision over 500 million dollars has been raised total. Where is all this money going? Should we really be spending this much on election campaigns?
 


The figures above are astronomical - and they don't even include most third parties. Looking at these numbers makes me want to know just what is happening with these funds. Therefore I have some key questions for each party:

1. Where are these funds coming from?
2. How is each campaign spending its funds?
3. Are our elected officials in office only because the had the monetary backing to make themselves well-known? If so, should we be voting for parties rather than candidates?
4. Is it worth spending this much money? Only one person will be elected president. Is the money spent on other candidates considered wasted?
5. Considering the current national debt, poverty statistics here and around the world and lack of funding for things like schools and parks should we really be putting this much money into a 50/50 chance - or no chance (yes, I am realistic enough to admit that)- that our candidate will be elected?
6. Is third party fund-raising worth it?


To answer for David Cobb and the Green Party I know that they do not accept money from corporations. They want donations from people. I am currently looking into how the funds are spent. I do believe it is worth raising money for them and other third parties. Even though there is little chance of them getting the presidency I do think that the funding can helping them gain ground on the smaller city and state levels. Start from the bottom and work up.

I for one see a lot of campaign fund misuse. Advertisements telling me candidate X once picked his nose in fourth grade are not something I am amused by. So much time, effort and money seems to be spent on telling us the faults of the other guy - and to make it worse I've seen some that are annonymous! This I would call misuse of funds. I want to know what your candidate and party stands for. I do not want to hear kids bickering on the play ground.

I was shocked when I saw the figures I posted above. My first thoughts were "what a waste of money" and "there are so many other groups that could use it more". How is that a homeless shelter or a school has such difficulty raising money when these people, often already wealthy, can gain it so easily? Why are people more willing to give to the rich? I think in part it may be a competition thing. Do we need to start having competitions to see which children's hospital can raise the most money? Pit them against one another?

All in all I believe this country needs to take a look at what is really important. Is the Presidential election really worth this much?


Resources:
CNN
Green Party USA

[edit on 8-8-2004 by Cercey]




posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 04:03 PM
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I will make this short and sweet.

Do not waste your money advertising yourself. Put the money back into heathcare or education.

It looks good on yourself. If you are putting the money into something that matters, people will respect that.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 04:22 PM
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Campaign finance reform has a long way to go, and will never be equitable or fair as long as it is being done by members of our two party monopoly.

Another question to maybe add to your list is this, what happens to the money that is raised but not spent on the campaign? If candidate X raises 55 million dollars for his campaign, but only spends 40 million during the campaign, does he give it back to the donators? Shouldn't they refund those who contributed to the losing campaign? Chance are really great that if candidate X wins the election he will reimburse those who have donated to his campaign in one way or another.

Maybe the fairest way to reform campaign finance is to make all campaigns federally funded equally, and not allow ANY outside donations. Of course to make it truly fair, the funds should go to any candidate who meets all the criteria for running for the office. Once the campaign is over, all candidates would have to submit receipts for monies spent, and return any unused portion.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 06:30 PM
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Originally posted by phreak_of_nature
Maybe the fairest way to reform campaign finance is to make all campaigns federally funded equally, and not allow ANY outside donations. Of course to make it truly fair, the funds should go to any candidate who meets all the criteria for running for the office. Once the campaign is over, all candidates would have to submit receipts for monies spent, and return any unused portion.


This has a lot of good points. I thought of suggesting something similar myself. The one problem I see is this: money not given for the gain of the contributor shows public support and backing. If party X has more supporters than party Y but they have equal funding is it unfair not to allow those supporters to booster their part? Of course, then the parties that appeal to the rich will win out, sort of like now. I'm just not sure on this issue. Reform is necessary and I agree that this idal is the best I've seen.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 06:48 PM
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Originally posted by phreak_of_nature
Maybe the fairest way to reform campaign finance is to make all campaigns federally funded equally, and not allow ANY outside donations. Of course to make it truly fair, the funds should go to any candidate who meets all the criteria for running for the office. Once the campaign is over, all candidates would have to submit receipts for monies spent, and return any unused portion.


Then what happens to third party and Independent candidates?

All this does is make SURE you only get to vote for those already handpicked for you to "choose" from.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 07:26 PM
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I think the best thing that can be done at this time is to insist on full transparency when $$ is spent by an individual or corporation on an election issue or candidate.

I often hear people say, "we've got to get the money out of politics."


As long as the federal government brings in as much money as it does, there will be lobbyists vying for pork spending and government contracts. The only way to get the "money out of politics" is to decrease the size of the federal government, its available resources, and its scope.

The Libertarians are the only party that I'm aware of who are advocating for a smaller federal government, and thus the only party capable of affecting meaningful change in this space. However, until they're popularly accepted, the best we can do is to insist that we know where the money's coming from and where it's going.

Stop secret campaign donations - everyone should be required to publicly report where they've spent money for political purposes. If George Soros gives a million dollars to MoveOn.org, the public should know.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 07:30 PM
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Originally posted by HoonieSkoba
I think the best thing that can be done at this time is to insist on full transparency when $$ is spent by an individual or corporation on an election issue or candidate.
Stop secret campaign donations - everyone should be required to publicly report where they've spent money for political purposes. If George Soros gives a million dollars to MoveOn.org, the public should know.



I agree this would be the best compromise IMO.

You will never be able to take the money so the next best thing would be TOTAL transparency. At least then you could trace the money trail when it come to vote time.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:26 PM
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Campaign financing as of right now is horrible. Right now we have an, unhealthy in my opinion, way of funding campaigns. It just continues to be the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Something has to be done.

My solution to the problem is as follows:


  • Put a cap on the amount a party can spend.

    Or

  • Put a luxury tax on the top two requiring them to donate x amount to the other parties.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:32 PM
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Why not give tax breaks to the media outlets. Take the money issue right out of it. TV, print, whatever, get tax breaks and they MUST give equal time. Not going to happen though, too much money that can't get "lost."



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:48 PM
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Why not give tax breaks to the media outlets. Take the money issue right out of it. TV, print, whatever, get tax breaks and they MUST give equal time.


Who defines 'equal' and what parties would benefit?

I stand by my statement that that you can't take the money out of it until the feds have less money for organizations to lobby to attain!


BlackJackal -> your "caps" idea is intriguing for the major parties. Tell us more. How would you distribute the excess money amoungst the 'other' parties? How do you deal with issue-ads from 'non-partison' groups (MoveOn.org) and soft money contributions?



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 08:56 PM
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Originally posted by HoonieSkoba


Why not give tax breaks to the media outlets. Take the money issue right out of it. TV, print, whatever, get tax breaks and they MUST give equal time.


Who defines 'equal' and what parties would benefit?

I stand by my statement that that you can't take the money out of it until the feds have less money for organizations to lobby to attain!


I say let the dictionary define equal. We had that for our federal election this year. Even the Communist party got air time on CBC. It's a gov't run station and if everyone didn't get their time, parties could have yelled to high heaven. As to the second statement, no money is a lot better than less money. It would take the special int. groups right out of it.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 09:25 PM
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I say let the dictionary define equal. We had that for our federal election this year. Even the Communist party got air time on CBC. It's a gov't run station and if everyone didn't get their time, parties could have yelled to high heaven.



I don't have a problem with the definition of equal. My point was more towards "who gets an equal share?" I think you've implied that recognized political parties qualify. (pls correct me if I've misinterpretted) Excuse my ignorance of Canadian politics, but how does one go about getting their party 'recognized'? Did the major parties get the same limited time as the third parties? Could Joeboo's Pajama Party get equal time? This seems difficult to regulate.




As to the second statement, no money is a lot better than less money. It would take the special int. groups right out of it.

And how, praytell, are you going to get the federal government to have 'no money'? Maybe you didn't understand my original point, so I'll restate. The federal government, through taxes, has tremendous amounts of money at its disposal. While it continues to collect such large sums, there will inevitably be lobbyists veying for it. These lobbyist organizations will spend lots of money on campaigns to elect the politicians that will give them access to the emmense federal coffers. So, you see, until these coffers are diminished, large sums of money will continue to be spent to elect the politicians that will divy it up in a pre-determined fashion.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 09:28 PM
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So are you basically saying, "this is our system, too bad"? If not what do you see as an answer?



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 09:30 PM
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First and Foremost this is a working theory but it goes like this:

Soft Money- To eliminate this problem during an election year, all parties should be required to disclose all incoming and outgoing funds. This way all the funds used for the campaign will be out in the open and subject to the cap.

Non-Partisan groups- If they are truly non-partisan then require that they spend equal dollars on each party, the same way radio stations and TV shows are required to give equal time to candidates.

Distribution of Monies- Lets say 6 months before election a tally of donations received should be taken. At this time any party over the cap, whatever that may be, would be required to hand the extra money over to the Treasury and the treasury would evenly distribute the money to all the other parties that were still under the cap. Of course exceptions would include a party that when it received the distribution would go over the cap.



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 09:56 PM
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Our society, that's YOU and ME and everyone else, has about a 45 second attention span and we want what anyone has to tell us full of eyecandy and good audio...

This relates to television and radio as the only REAL mediums these candidates can hope to use to reach the critical mass number of potential customers (Voters)...

Having spent thousands of dollars in Radio myself, advertising my business, I can tell you that it will take HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars to effectively "reach" your target audience on a national level.

THIS is where the money goes folks. It goes toward US (you and me and everyone else) hearing/seeing the message presented by the candidates.

It all pretty much became a monopoly (for the TV and Radio companies) in the 60's when JFK whipped Nixon's buttock in the FIRST televised debate. Many pundits claim it was the fact JFK had makeup on and looked good for the camera, while Nixon refused to wear "makeup" and looked like a vampire, that contributed most to his victory in that debate.

That was the beginning of the end in my mind. IF (and I mean *IF*, because I would like to think JFK simply had a BETTER agenda/platform/message than Nixon did) in fact the US voting public really did give JFK the "win" in that debate over this, as is so widely touted, it was truly a foreshadow of future events that I beleive we are witnessing now.

I assure you if you look into it, you'll see that even a little State Senate race has climbed into the MILLIONS of dollars of ad expenditures in the bigger states! These races, not more than 20 years ago, were won by the hardest worker (he/she who got out and TALKED with the people face to face) NOT the biggest spender...

I would not be surprised to see the General Election cresting $1,000,000,000.00 in advertising costs before I die...

Pitiful really. I have heard many pundits decry the campaign reform acts as nothing more than "Free Speech inhibitors" since they MIGHT allow a slicker management team to outdo the opposition through soft finance.

What a CROCK!

IF we are to have GENUINE campaign finance reform the rules need be bullet proof and SIMPLE. Each candidate ghets to spend X number of dollars 100% of which is paid by the government PERIOD, by by special interest purchase power...

So far the politician's, who make MILLIONS personally, by being free to use the left over odd million or two after an election for whatever they want, are doing an awesome job of obfuscating the laws as they are presented and ultimately voting and or watering them down to the point they are useless.

Why wouldn't they?! Who could possibly give up MILLIONS of free dollars?! This issue, in and of itself, is a nightmare scenario. NO Human can be counted upon to regulate him/herself OUT of millions of dollars...

Until "WE the People" ratify a Constitutional Ammendment that makes this illegal we are never going to see real reform IMHO...

Here's the catch 22... Anyone thought about how terribly HARD it is to ammend the Constitution?!


m...

[edit on 8-9-2004 by Springer]



posted on Aug, 9 2004 @ 10:55 PM
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Not having read all of the posts yet ( I plan to do so), I thought I would offer some things I think about campaign financing.

First, My thinking is that funds gathered should be allocated to the states that they came from. How to do this is another matter but I think it would be a good thing, because I am disgusted that a national candidate of either party would choose to funnel enormous amounts of money into so called "battleground states", while each party seems to take for granted states which appear to support a particular party.

It has gotten way out of hand, that corporate, union, and special interest money has corrupted the national elections. More to often, the one who has the most to spend is the most likely to win an election, and I ask you, "Is that what you consider when you place your vote in the booth?", I can say that I don't, and until we the people can be approached for our vote in an honest, issue oriented way, we are in for more of the same. It is obvious that the majority of the voting public either doesn't care or have been brainwashed by the money pumped into the political campaigns.

Sure they passed McCain/Feingold but what is the result? The money has been pumped into pseudo organizations claiming to be independent of the candidates and they expect us to believe it. MoveOn.org and SwiftBoat Vetsagainst Kerry are just 2 examples, anyone with a brain know where their nasty ads are directed.....

These people in power think that the American public are ignorant and actually invite us to argue their ignorant, child-like attacks while never getting to the real problem in Washington.

I see good ideas from both sides of the aisle but would never take either party line because I see extremes from both sides which I could never agree with. If you took a good look at the issues, you may find the same.

I went way off topic, I think that all funding for our candidates should be restricted to individuals, and that the contributions should be used in the state that the funds came from. Sure, the unions, special interest groups and corporate interests could still lobby for their points to congress but they shouldn't be allowed to pump millions into elections.

If you want to be elected to the Presidency, you should be willing to go to every state in the union to present your platform and let the voters decide.

Will it happen? It can, but the voters must stand up and demand it!



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 03:31 PM
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Originally posted by Springer



IF we are to have GENUINE campaign finance reform the rules need be bullet proof and SIMPLE. Each candidate ghets to spend X number of dollars 100% of which is paid by the government PERIOD, by by special interest purchase power...

[edit on 8-9-2004 by Springer]


But if the government pays 100% doesnt that mean that they handpick the candidates even more than they do already?

What I am saying is wouldnt that stop ANYONE other than the big two from running from office? They make it hard in a lot of states to get on the ballot as it is wouldnt this give the governmenty TOTAL control over who runs?



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 05:23 PM
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Amuk, what I have proposed, and what I think Springer is proposing also, is equal funding for any candidate who meets the criteria to run for that particular office.

I don't want to see only two names on a ballot. I want to see many names on a ballot. I want to see the lesser of two evils disappear. I want to see the elections become what they have always been meant to be, and that is picking the candidate who best represents you, and your interests.

It is also my feeling that equal funding will eliminate alot of people running for office who aren't there truly to serve the people, but rather to line their pockets. If you can't get rich by collecting campaign donations, then you will only get people who's intent is to really do the public a service.

I'm not against you Amuk, I want to see the Libertarian party become strong and viable. But I also want that for the Constitution Party, and the Green Party, and even the Reform Party, if they can make a come back. Heck, I was a registered Libertarian for over 6 years. Now I'm registered with the Reform party. My agenda is to create a strong multi-party system, and I think the best way to do it is to level the playing field where the money is concerned.

EDIT: For Spelling

[edit on 8/10/2004 by phreak_of_nature]



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 05:28 PM
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Originally posted by Amuk
But if the government pays 100% doesnt that mean that they handpick the candidates even more than they do already?


Good point. That doesn't sound appealing to me! Maybe we should say no donations from corporations/lobyists, etc, no money from the government BUT all candidates with more than one percent of the vote get an equal amount of free (government sponsored?) airtime on the TV.

I'd like to see candidates donating any extra money - or somehow giving it back. Maybe giving it to schools or something? Or even giving it back to their party for use on other campaigns on the state or city level would be all right.



posted on Aug, 10 2004 @ 06:18 PM
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phreak_of_nature


I am for a multi-party system myself I am just not sure if involving the government more than it already is, is going to help. But then how are the smaller parties going to match the multi-millions that the big two have? I dont really have an answer for that.

Would you wont the government telling you that you cant donate to your political party? That you cant write a letter to the editor or put a sign in your front yard unless you support all parties equally? How about telling you you cant run for office at all unless you are on an approved party list. This could very easily lead to just such scenarios.

This is kinda like school prayer in that it seems fairly simple on the surface but is not if you dig a little deeper.

Maybe not allowing corporations top donate at all, and restricting donations to say 100-200$ per person would be a better way to go.

That would place everyone on about the same level, almost anyone could afford that and Donald Trumps donation would not mean any more than mine




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