By Donna Westfall – September 7, 2016 –
Have you ever asked yourself who may pull the strings for the decisions that are made by your board of supervisors. You might find it interesting that one member of the board of supervisors and one board wannabe have big special interest and Political Action Committees (PAC) money backing them.
The question you may want to ask is, how much does it cost to buy a county supervisor. Why is this important to know? It’s because, when special interest groups give money to political campaigns, they expect something in return. It kind of reminds me of old style Chicago machine politics.
In this case, two candidates for the board of supervisors have accepted a large part of their campaign cash from various out of the area Political Action Groups, big labor bosses and other special interest groups. For example, according to the latest political report known as Form 460, where candidates have to report their donations to the county elections clerk, Kathleen Murray has received donations from the Bricklayers, Tilesetters and Allied Craftworkers Local #3 located in San Leandro.
What do they have to do with Del Norte County? I doubt there are many members of the Bricklayers and Tilesetters union in Del Norte County. Or how about this $250 donation from the operating Engineers of Alameda Why would unions located 400 miles away from Crescent City want to be involved in Del Norte County politics? Lastly, she received a $1,000 donation from the Central Labor Counsel. Well of course, they don’t give something for nothing. Big money donations mean they will be asking for big favors. They are going to expect political favors from their “bought and paid” for candidates.
But Kathleen Murray isn’t the only one who accepts out of the area campaign money. In David Finigan’s latest campaign filing, of those special interest groups who gave campaign cash, much of it came from out of the area political interest groups. Another bought and paid for politician?
Most voters never become aware of the “pay to play” political game until candidates get caught. Our own Martha McClure got swept up in this scandal which was well documented in the LA Times article, however most of the time, these scandals never come to light because the media only looks at how much is being donated to the campaigns and never even thinks to look at where the campaign cash is coming from.
But what of Supervisor Gitlin and candidate Berkowitz? We could find no evidence of campaign donations that were from special interest groups or Political Action Committees. According to Berkowitz, he says that he does not accept special interest or PAC money. “I refuse to be controlled by groups who want political favors because they may have donated to a campaign. I have seen too many politicians who have been corrupted by big donations of campaign cash.” said Berkowitz.
It’s long past the time that we eliminated special interest and PAC money from local campaigns. We know, that at the national level, “pay to play” is the accepted norm, but it should not be the case on the local level. Individuals who donate to a particular campaign want their candidate to do the right thing and not to be influenced by outside pressure groups. Our local candidates should take the pledge that they will not accept outside money by PACs, unions, corporations and special interests.