As promised in my last blog post about fracking vs biofuel, I am going to enlighten you about why we have so many gas wells in PA and can’t seem to get stricter laws on gun control in this country.
If you are old enough to remember the old children’s song, “Pop Goes the Weasel,” you might remember the second verse, “A penny for a spool of thread. A penny for a needle. That’s the way the money goes - pop goes the weasel.”
Well with inflation a spool of thread and a needle go for a lot more today. But it seems money is going to the weasels. And in the case of fracking, “Pop Goes the Environment.”
Now down to business. You may be seeing a lot of politicians saying they are not accepting any PAC money in their campaign. This is a good thing. However, maybe some of you don’t know what PAC money is; so I’ll give you a glossary of a few interesting terms when it comes to political campaign contributions - or what I like to call how to buy a vote.
According to OpenSecrets.org here are the definitions:
Political Action Committee (PAC) — A popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Most PACs represent business, labor or ideological interests. PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC. PACs may receive up to $5,000 from any one individual, PAC or party committee per calendar year.
Ah, but a PAC is only one of the definitions you need to know about. Again from the same source there is a Super PAC:
Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit.
If you want to see Super PAC money in action you need only turn on your TV. These are the sources of much of the money used for paid advertising. This is also why when an ad crosses the line, a candidate will cry they had nothing to do with the advertising.
Next we have Dark Money. Sound sinister? Maybe, but at the very least if is money that proves difficult to trace.
Dark Money refers to political spending meant to influence the decision of a voter, where the donor is not disclosed and the source of the money is unknown. Depending upon the circumstances, Dark Money can refer to funds spent by a political nonprofit or a super PAC. Here’s how:
Political nonprofits are under no legal obligation to disclose their donors. When they choose not to, they are considered Dark Money groups.
Super PACs can also be considered Dark Money groups in certain situations. While these organizations are legally required to disclose their donors, they can accept unlimited contributions from political nonprofits and “shell” corporations who may not have disclosed their donors, in these cases they are considered Dark Money groups.
So it seems even if a candidate refuses to accept PAC money, they can still accept Super PAC money if you want to get technical. Now, supposing the candidate is totally honest, they may include Super PAC money in their statement.
That still leaves the political nonprofits. While PAC and Super PACs must be more upfront with their funds and report to the Federal Election Committee, political nonprofits are not required to do so. However, they are limited in the amount they may give to any one candidate.
They receive their money from undisclosed donors often using shell corporations. You know about shell corporations if you watch a lot of crime TV. Detectives hate them, but they always have an expert computer wiz who will track down where the money’s real source.
How they get around to it is they can grant money to other nonprofits. who will use it to also make donations. The system really works quite well at getting the money where they want it to go. If only trickle down economics worked so well.
When you go to the Open Secrets web site you can get a lot of valuable information about campaign finance.
The bottom line is most of these groups have an agenda. If the agenda is more fracking they are going to give to the candidates most likely to vote for legislation that favors their business; or vice versa. It’s just business. Why would they give to someone who votes against what they want?
This not just being done by Republican candidates, if is being done across all parties. The only difference is the agenda.
You can go on the Open Secrets site and learn who gives money to which candidate, except Dark Money as stated above, and then you can look up that candidates voting record. I am sure you’ll find there is a direct correlation between where the money comes from and how the candidate votes.
Like I said, it’s just business.
It’s also why I said a politician’s votes may be bought and paid for.
To stay on top of all this you will need to do a bit of research, but in the end like clean eating, you will be able to see which candidate will offer a clean vote, untainted by any outside influence.
Just remember, the way it works, you probably have a personal agenda, and if you look, you will find a group who shares that agenda and is right now buying some votes. You may want to back the candidate who sold those votes.
Last, I want to say that until someone comes up with a way to change this, it is what it is. Do the research and vote accordingly. And know that without the large sums of money donated to various campaigns those candidates will be looking for money elsewhere. Elsewhere may be in your pocketbook.
Campaigns are not cheap to run. If a candidate is not taking PAC money you may likely be hearing from them again and again until the November election. You can’t blame them.
posted by Pam Garlick