Big Money is a problem in elections but candidates personal wealth is irrelevant | Letter

Many citizens would appreciate having elected officials whose personal wealth generally reflects the wealth of the voters who elect them. Big Money is a problem in our government. This phrase today, however, usually does not refer to the wealth of an elected official, but the vast resources of wealth which influence campaigns in exchange for legislative favors. In short, it is about the power of money to buy votes.

Billionaires, mega-corporations, and special interests behind Big Money demand results from legislators very different from results desired by average citizens. Witness today’s debate regarding health care and tax reform.

Even if candidates vow not to be influenced by Big Money, it comes looking for them, often in the form of independent expenditures. These are the monies which place, among other things, negative advertisements in your mailbox, on the radio and television. Since these expenditures are independent of the candidate’s campaign, the source of the money by law is not disclosed.

The personal wealth of one elected official compared with that of another is insignificant during campaigns. During the recent Alabama Republican primary the Washington Post reported that Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund super PAC spent over $733,000 on Sen. Luther Strange’s campaign and $2.5 million for negative ads against his opponent.

In June a writer to the Record reported that during the 2016 campaign only 30 percent of the $1.6 million Rep. Reichert raised for his campaign came from Washington state, and only 7.08 percent came from inside the 8th Congressional District. Clearly forces outside the jurisdictions of these two races hoped to influence outcomes.

Our founding fathers feared the domination of our democracy by private interests over the public good. Approximately 80 years ago President Franklin Roosevelt said, “We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” Today we know that until we get Big Money out of our elections we the people will not solve the challenging issues of our day. Special interests backed by organized money will determine our future path.

Linda Bock