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No question about it, money really is the mother’s milk of politics

By: Keith Kappes
Columnist
Carter County Times

The late Jesse Unruh, a legendary California politician, coined that phrase in 1966 and it has proven to be more prophetic in each election cycle, including last year’s governor’s race and this year’s presidential election. 

My wife and I have lost count of the full-color, slickly-coated direct mail fundraising appeals – plus the countless e-mail messages from party leaders at all levels – that we have received in this election cycle. 

Actually, I’ve been trying to entertain myself because the computer wizards who keep track of voters sometimes miss the mark. For example, one national group thinks my wife and I live in California instead of Kentucky. 

They asked me for names of my neighbors here in the Sacramento (?) area so I sent them five fictitious names and addresses. Within a week, they messaged me that all five of my “neighbors” had contributed to their candidate and they were waiting for my donation. I chuckle each time I think about that prank. 

Having both won and lost as a candidate, I know it takes money to reach voters with your exciting message. I’m proud of the fact that other folks helped me when I ran for public office and this year I’ve tried to do the same for candidates at the city, state legislative, U.S. Senate and White House levels. 

And my wife reminds me each time that we are retired and living on state and federal pensions that may not last as long as we do. 

But it is clear that many other voters are turned off by the constant fundraising bombardment from candidates at all levels. 

I learned recently that some federal candidates have raised so much money that they are sharing it generously with state candidates because they may not be able to spend most of it by Election Day. 

That is a direct result of the U. S. Supreme Court decision in 2010, Citizens United vs. FEC, that removed all limits on campaign gifts by corporations, political action committees and shadowy, anonymous organizations that don’t have to divulge the source of their “dark money”. 

Sadly, that was the day our federal government was put up for sale.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com

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