COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., September 2, 2013 — As voting begins in the first-ever recall of two Colorado senators, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have dumped large donations into the defense efforts of Senators Morse (Colorado Springs) and Giron (Pueblo).
According to Valerie Richardson, who has been following the money trail for The Washington Times, Bloomberg sent $350,000 to Taxpayers for Responsible Government, an “issue committee” formed less than a month ago by Democratic fundraiser Julie Wells. Billionaire Eli Broad of Los Angeles contributed $250,000 to the committee. The committee then donated $420,000 to the two defense campaigns.
The Democrats are even importing their fundraisers from out of state.
Julie Wells is the registered agent for more than two dozen groups raising and spending millions to benefit Democrats. She lives in Cadiz, Kentucky. She was instrumental in raising money for Morse’s 2010 reelection campaign.
Expect more of the same: When the recall efforts were first announced in March, almost $1 million was pledged to defend each of the targets, including Sen. Evie Hudak. Petitions calling for Hudak’s recall were never turned in.
The two defense committees have now received more than $600,000 each, the vast majority from such large donations. By contrast, the two recall committees have operated on a shoestring but have wide popular appeal.
The peasants are revolting and the patricians of the coasts don’t like it. They can’t send in armed troops to put down the rebellion so they’re flooding the airwaves with negative advertising and the streets with hired walkers instead.
How is all this possible?
Campaign finance reform in 2002 limited the amount of money you could contribute to a candidate. It also left huge loopholes for third-party issue committees and non-profit “educational” organizations. So while you may contribute up to $400 to any candidate in a Colorado election and you must register if you give anything over $20, billionaires like Bloomberg and Broad can give more than half a million dollars to a committee.
Democrats were quick to figure out that in order to win, all they needed to do was form supposedly independent organizations to collect as much money as they wanted. Republicans, by contrast, were fairly clueless. Furthermore, as Wells’ Taxpayers for Responsible Government shows, these organizations can be set up and even taken down fairly quickly as needed. Sometimes they dissolve before statutory reporting deadlines, making them totally unaccountable.
While this arrangement is great for people like Bloomberg and George Soros who fund them, it is not so good for politicians or for the American people and self-government. Whoever controls the money controls the message — and increasingly, the policy agenda itself.
The recalls are not run-of-the-mill elections, however. The question is not who the people should elect, but rather whether their elected officials are truly representative of the electorate. This is where the Democrat playbook begins to fall apart. You can use your wealth to elect a politician amenable to your point of view. You can promise that politician “top cover” when he or she enacts your agenda against the will of the people.
But you can’t make the people like it.
And when they don’t like it, they can initiate a recall — ironically a Progressive-era reform designed to wrest control of parties from the centralized control of the party elites of the day.
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
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