$$$: How to win an election without really trying

The following is the complete version of a Letter to the Editor in Longmont Times-Call on July 14, 2010. The italicized portions were omitted by the Times-Call.

Everything has a price - but should it?

“Money. It doesn’t grow on trees, can’t buy you love, and the love of it is the root of all kinds of evil, filthy lucre, so why is there so much of it in our local elections? I should think that everyone wants their candidates to be transparent in each and everything they do, especially when it comes to who, how, and where they receive their money from.” So says a writer in a recent article on Free Range Longmont, Longmont’s “progressively better news” source.

Recent letters to the editor have commented on several articles at www.freerangelongmont.com on the subject of money in Longmont’s last mayoral and council campaigns, articles that should have been written by Longmont’s local paper-if it had any interest in investigative, analytical reporting. For when financial rocks are turned over in Longmont, what lies underneath is never pretty.

Compare those who spent the most and who had the most spent on their behalf with those who won the office, and the connection between money and politics becomes vividly apparent.

Those who won the election and their supporters spent $82,519. Those who lost spent $21,454, a ratio of 4 to 1. In order to gain their votes, the winning candidates and the groups who supported them spent $2.33 per vote compared to $1.03 per vote by the alternative candidates.

When the well-funded candidates (and those secretly-funded through 501c4 organizations) claimed their majority, something interesting occurred. Three lawsuits brought by their endorsers were settled–for a total of $182,000. That’s not a bad return on an electoral investment. And it gives a whole new meaning to publicly-financed campaigns.

If you have a special interest before the city, spend enough money, conceal your contribution and identity, the collective “you” can effectively buy an election and the results you seek.

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