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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Money makes the world go 'round

What exactly was the Supreme Court thinking when it decided corporations didn't have enough speech?

Two stories -- from opposite sides of the divide -- point to the already overwhelming influence of corporate cash on our daily lives: one is civic-minded with limited potential to harm; the other, well, is a basic effort to buy goodwill and entree.

If the National Governors Association was not meeting in Boston, bringing an estimated $3 million in desperately needed tax revenues into state coffers, you could rest assured the Herald would be bleating about more than the $153,000 in annual dues the commonwealth's taxpayers subsidize. Like Deval Patrick taking a junket to some distant capital to lounge somewhere sipping cold ones while some crisis looms.

The Herald's DNA prohibits the possibility that professional public officials can get together and actually accomplish something significant by learning from each other. So be it. It's the fate of East Podunk readers to discover that Boston is a good destination to drop their tourist dollars.

Far more insidious -- and far more likely to expand under the ruling of the so-called non-activist high court -- is the dropping of tens of thousands of dollars by securities firms and the lawyers who work there on the public officials who manage and regulate their businesses.

While spokespeople might insist “there isn’t any connection between or relationship between campaign contributions and getting business,’’ it's a lot easier to get queasy over this relationship than some far-fetched belief of an "appearance of a conflict of interest" when a corporation help buy hot dogs for weenie roasts.

There are at least several layers between regulators like Treasurer Tim Cahill or Attorney General Martha Coakley and the lobbyists plunking down campaign cash. Nor in rare occasions, like Dianne Wilkerson, is there ever hard evidence of a direct exchange of cash for favors.

But if there was ever an appearance of a conflict of interest, it's when out-of-state firms doing business with the commonwealth plunk down their corporate cash on a candidate they cannot even elect (or in the case of Coakley, probably contributed to defeat in the Senate race).

So while I can't get too upset with funding weenie roasts, I do wonder when the cycle will stop, thanks to the supposed wise men on the Supreme Court. I certainly know it won't be in the coming months as the 2010 elections speed up.

In the meantime, let's take a closer look at those relationships and be nice to the tourists who show up as a result of the other corporate donations.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it too much to ask that the candidates police themselves, if someone running for office came out and announced that he wouldn't take donations greater than 1,000 dollars from any one source he would probably have my vote. At this point the corrupting influence of money overrides almost any other concern I have about their positions on issues, which you can't seem to count on anyway.

June 08, 2010 8:55 AM  

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