Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There oughta be a law against that

The Buffalo News opines that New York's rules about what "candidates" can do with unused campaign funds is, well, pathetic. And wrong.

As currently written the state law - known as one of the most lax in the nation - says ... [a] candidate's unused money can go to other candidates. On the surface, that seems to make sense. At least the candidate doesn't get to pocket it. But here's the rub: The money is often ... leveraged to buy favors. Past office holders and candidates retain power and influence... [T]his is not only legal, it's commonplace. More importantly, it's just another example of putting what's good for politicians ahead of what's good for citizens.

The Buffalo News points to Anthony M Massielo, registered lobbyist and prominent Democrat with "campaign" funds left over after he decided not to mount another campaign for mayor. He recently contributed $45,000 in unused "campaign" funds to Elliot Spitzer's campaign for Governor. As the News points out, "[t]hat's a chunk of change injected into the election effort of a potential administration whose many divisions could find work for Masiello's fledgling firm."

But as the News also points out, Masiello's case is nothing special. This is par for the course in New York State politics. It merely "highlights the incestuous relationships among politicians, office holders and lobbyists."

The editorial leaves us with this disturbing thought:

Some people wonder why people get into politics? In increasing numbers, it's to leave with a six-figure slush fund to dole out from a lobbying office. It's an exclusive power club where the members write bad rules.

Indeed. Why should any legislator be motivated to change New York's lax ethics rules when he or she may benefit from them down the road?

Categories: General, Campaign Finance, Ethics

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