Posts Tagged ‘campaign’

Do you need some extra cash? Then Rick Perry’s campaign is the place to “volunteer” these days. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is rewarding his volunteers in the governor’s race, not with the usual candidate goods or an opportunity to meet with the candidate, but with flat-out cash. Though not a common practice, paying campaign volunteers is

Rick Perry hungry for the Governors seat

Rick Perry hungry for the Governor's seat

perfectly legal, as long as all the payments are disclosed in the campaign financial reports. But is it right? Does this type of campaigning encourage people to be more concerned with earning some additional cash than with Perry’s actual political platform?

Perry pays volunteers to sign up 11 other volunteers, who then again sign up to recruit 11 more volunteers, and so forth. Of course, Perry is not guaranteed the votes of the recruits, only their word that they will vote for him. Obviously, Perry’s only goal is to recruit as many voters as possible. But he is also taking a chance by paying his volunteers, because many people will campaign for money incentives, but may not actually vote for him in the primaries. So to encourage the vote, Perry has promised more money to the recruiters who turn out actual voters on Election Day.

But this whole scenario creates a bigger problem: It is very possible that people who are not necessarily usually politically active will now campaign and/or vote for Perry only because they will profit from it, which takes us back to the days of Party Bosses. Under party bosses, people were given money, jobs and other services from politicians essentially buying their votes.

To many people, this is perhaps not a shock coming from Perry, but even the governor’s Republican opponent Kay Bailey Hutchinson has openly criticized Perry’s campaign method. Her spokeswoman Jennifer Baker states: “Typical Rick Perry arrogance, when his failed record can’t earn him support, he’ll just buy it,” adding that Hutchinson’s campaign does not offer money to volunteers.

Ultimately, the problem with paying volunteers is that the process of campaigning, and the incentive for volunteerism and even voting can quickly become more about money than ideology and the meaningful issues at hand. Money for votes, therefore, can ultimately skew the interests of the constituency that the governor will represent. People who are not necessarily usually politically involved will now campaign and vote for Perry only because they will profit from it and not for the real reasons they should be involved in politics, or cast a vote.

Mysteriously, there is no mention of these paid volunteer positions on Rick Perry’s website, but the site states that anyone who signs up as a volunteer will receive “access to inside information.”

By H. Harrison


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Tom Craddick, the former Speaker of the Texas House and currently a Republican  incumbent Texas House Member, has given money to his favorite incumbent Democratic Representatives. So, what’s the problem? Craddick laundered the money through a PAC instead of a direct contribution. In response, Texans for Public Justice, a political advocacy group, has filed a formal complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission, claiming this is illegal.

Here’s what happened: Craddick gave $250,000 to the Texas Jobs & Opportunity Build A Secure Future PAC (Jobs PAC) on January 10, 2008, along with instructions to distribute the money to incumbent Democratic Representatives; Kevin Bailey, Dawnna Dukes, Kino Flores, and Aaron Pena. Each representative was offered $50,000. All the Representatives, except Dukes who was wary of already existing criticism about ties to Craddick from her opponent, accepted the money.
According to Texas Campaign Finance laws (Texas Election Code Chapter 253.001), contributing money through any intermediary organization without disclosing its original source is illegal. However, it probably happens more than voters will ever know, as it does not leave a paper trail back to the original contributor.

Texans for Public Justice Director Craig McDonald says: “Tom Craddick wanted to move tens of thousands of dollars to his favorite Democrats without letting voters know. Hiding the true source of campaign funds is illegal. Craddick could have contributed the money directly and openly. Instead, he used Texas Jobs to launder his money and keep Texans in dark.” This issue, therefore, deals with more than disregarding Campaign Finance Laws; this is behavior that also leads to voter ignorance.

And here comes the rub with most campaign finance problems: it’s not necessarily the recipients who are at fault here.  Craddick, in an attempt at political payback, gave money to those who had voted for him as Speaker.  As in most cases with campaign finance laws, we walk a very fine line between bribery, kickbacks, etc and legitimate donations.  The public can’t know what was in the mind and heart of Rep Craddick, much less those of Bailey, Pena, and Flores (who, we should note, none of whom voted for Craddick’s re-election for Speaker in 2009)– BUT only by instituting a system of public financing can we be certain that our candidates are running clean and are only representing the wishes of their constituents.  I think it would be a great step forward for public confidence in elections and also rid our elected officials of the task of fundraising, something not one elected official I know claims to like.  Win-Win-Win.

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