17 years ago

To the editor:
It is estimated that successful presidential candidates will spend over one billion dollars on their campaigns. Therefore, two or three billion dollars can be expected to be spent by leading contenders depending on whether or not a third party or independent candidate runs for president. This does not include the hundreds of millions that also ran candidates will have spent on aborted campaigns. This is an obscenity in our democracy. The many nations attempting to form new democracies and some others aspiring to do so must look at how our system works and wonder if such a change would really be in their better interest.
    Such staggering money opens the path to some horrific consequences; many of which are legal but smack of morality gone awry. When candidates have money left over from previous campaigns – for any office – they are allowed to keep that money and allow it to accumulate interest. Such funds can then be applied to another campaign. This places candidates not having previously run for office at a crippling financial disadvantage. When money becomes a major determinant of candidate success, our democracy is severely endangered.
An alternative candidate strategy is to keep the unused campaign(s) funding and declare it as personal taxable income. It has been alleged by cynics that that is a motive of many candidates for office who declare their candidacy, solicit significant campaign contributions, and then exit campaigns after garnering six or seven digit campaign contributions, handsomely lining their financial nests.
It ought to be illegal to make rich by pocketing campaign contributions. Such unused funds should be turned over to the government to decrease the national debt.
A recent law was passed by Congress requiring contributors’ names and amounts to be fully disclosed. However, as almost always happens, loopholes were embedded into this law. Charities are not required to disclose sources or amounts of funds they receive of give. So, flimflam charities can receive huge bundled campaign contributions and then turn these into undisclosed political contributions to a candidate thus nullifying the new law.
We need a way to reduce the obvious influence peddling many large campaign contributions really are; decrease the amount of money spent on campaigns; and shorten the campaign season. Our political season seems endless and is so tied to money as to invite gross cynicism that money runs our politics. This belief harms our nation’s underpinning.

Ken Petress
Presque Isle