sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, March 4, 2016

Campaign Finance 101

Dear Friends, I think that it's important that you understand how political contributions work and how the candidates can become multi-millionaires in one election cycle (if they're running for the right office). I'm not talking about money laundering or anything illegal, just the basics. Let's call it campaign finance 101.

When I left my job at the Orange Country District Attorney's Office, I was offered a job as a "campaign advisor" by a local firm that does that. They offered twice what I made in my former employment to start, plus a car and a massive expense account. The politicians would pay me to keep them out of jail and to aid in their election/re-election bids. I didn't take the job.

Hypothetical

You are an office holder, a state senator or maybe even a US Congressman. You have a campaign fund that people put money into. When you leave office, that money is yours to keep. So in addition to your princely government retirement,  you should have a ton of cash in the campaign fund that transfers tax-free.  Your predecessors wrote laws to protect your class, and since most of your class is made up of attorneys, the ethical constraints on you are only bounded by the fine details of the law.

You're in office now, and more's the pity, you can't spend your campaign funds except on matters defined by law. Since the public does scrutinize that law, you're stuck with it. BUT you wish to take your mistress on a vacation without your wife knowing. How do you skim money from your campaign fund LEGALLY and pay for the lavish trip down the Rhine, or take the Concorde to London for a visit to a "sister city"?

You and your political buddies go to the United Crippled Negro Child Outreach Fund [a 501 (c) (3) corporation] and they arrange a $10,000 a plate dinner 'for the children'. As a politician, you can spend campaign funds for charitable purposes. So there are ten of you who meet somewhere nice and you each hand the fund manager a check for $10K. All ten of you have a nice lunch and then at the end of the lunch, the door prizes are announced. LSP wins the all expenses paid for trip for two to Bermuda, Fredd wins the trip for two to Bora Bora (a sister-city), Adrienne has a trip to Rome to visit the Pope and so forth. Maybe it's just luck, but each politician gets the door prize that their heart desired. $1,000 from each participant goes to the Crippled Negro Children who end up realizing somewhere around $300 from the entire pot once salaries and expenses are met. Everything is legal, everyone is happy.

You see, it's not just the significant retirement benefits that politicians realize from changing the zoning from R-1 to C-1. They can manipulate that campaign fund within the law. 

Thoughts on Policy & the Situation

Nationalist vs Internationalist

Donald Trump is running for president as an American Nationalist. The elites spit that out as if it was something distasteful. As an American, there is an appeal to having somebody in charge who has an "America first" philosophy. The policy wonks and the Washington establishment are Internationalists and are unhappy that somebody who differs with them so sharply on issues such as trade imbalance would be doing well with voters. Thus the hue and cry that better to leave the Party than to vote for Trump (if you're one of the well cared for elites).

Trump is well traveled, has experience building commercial enterprises worldwide, and is not an isolationist but his rhetoric is clearly that America has been getting screwed. Which we have.

Other candidates talk a good game but you need to take a step back and see who owns them/pays them/supports them (however your conscience lets you slice it). Yes, they're all Internationalists. Drill down yourself. Tell me what you see.

I don't know whether Trump will or won't be a good president and neither does anyone else. However, we need an American president, for a change. Obama clearly is not. Neither is Hillary Clinton/John Kerry. Sanders is a wing nut.

Thoughts on National Healthcare

I laid out how I feel about the problem with Social Security/Medicare here.  Some of you made very good points in the comments section. I don't feel the need to elaborate, except to stress that at some level healthcare safety nets become the burden of all of us. It's not "conservative" to write of this, but each US State must decide how to solve the problem for its citizens and must levy a tax to manage healthcare for the most vulnerable. I think that it's a 10th Amendment issue.
The problem for the states is that they can invite or discourage population movement by what they offer or don't offer. But it's up to them, not the federal government. 
Federal Govt. Role

The National Institutes of Health, Center for Disease Control and overarching programs such as that are useful to deal with crisis points (such as ebola or other similar potential outbreaks), and research that benefits the nation.

No matter what happens, the environment for portable healthcare (that deals with pre-existing conditions) even if you leave your job - you pay the premiums; cross-border market accessibility for all insurance carriers and a re-examination of what constitutes a "family" for the purpose of insurance must be part of a national discussion. The states can handle the safety nets, but regulating interstate commerce is a federal problem.

Hillary's Dilemma

The pantsuited demon now knows that there has been a grand jury convened and that they are hearing testimony. Soon -- within a few weeks, the FBI will start to interview her inner circle, all of whom have criminal exposure. They will all have lawyers and the lawyers will advise their clients NOT TO TALK (lawyer-up). DOJ will have to decide whether to offer them immunity and compel their testimony under penalty of perjury or to indict them. As the dominoes begin to fall the pressure on Hillary to "lawyer-up" will become intense. More intense because she's on the campaign trail and a feeding frenzy in the national media (even MSNBC) will commence.

Hillary Clinton's lawyers will advise her NOT to talk to the FBI. She will say that she can explain everything. But either way, she's cooked. I spent a healthy piece of my career doing political corruption investigations very successfully and that's how it always goes. It's not really rocket science because she did it, and it's a crime.

So does she who would be queen obstruct an investigation into a criminal conspiracy in which she was the lead conspirator? And if the President and the Party interferes or obstructs, do they run the risk of circling the toilet bowl with her?

The Republicans know this, and it terrifies them because the Republican elite would be much more comfortable Hillary in charge than somebody like Trump, who would likely gore their ox too. This is why you see such frenetic anger and fear inside the Beltway at the moment.