Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Milking it, part 2

By Bill Kraus

The realities:

Money--the mother's milk of politics--is going to find a way into political campaigns.

Big money has made minor leaguers of the business organizations, unions, and other interest groups that used to be the 500-pound gorillas of politics.

The once dominant political parties are fiscally anemic paper tigers.

The Supreme Court is now in its third century of saying that corporations and other organizations are people and that money is speech. It is not going to change its mind. This means the courts are not a route to spending rules and limits.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Milking it, part 1

By Bill Kraus

Money has always been, to quote Lyndon Johnson, “the mother’s milk of politics.” In the last 40 years it has traveled a steadily upward path to becoming the appetizer, entree, and dessert as well.

It all started in the wake of the Watergate scandal when the reformers who targeted the abuses by the Republican Party’s Maurice Stans inadvertently opened the Pandora’s box of campaign funding.

They did this by creating an additional route for contributions called political action committees (PACs). This, unexpectedly, was a contributor's dream. For years political contributions had mostly flowed through the political parties which recruited, slated, funded and managed candidate campaigns. What contributors got with PACs was a direct route to candidates themselves. What the parties, who the esteemed Ody Fish labeled “a kinder mistress,” got was bypassed and a lesser role in the election process.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The invisible administration

By Bill Kraus

The governor is always the main event in any administration, and rightly so. But there is usually a prominent supporting cast.

The people in the governor’s office itself if not well known when they arrive, quickly become so.

The cabinet officers as well get profiled and make news on their own as attention to what their departments are doing waxes and wanes in the usual course of doing the state’s and people’s business.

The governor’s inner circle, which is not a part of the official government, is usually easily identified and occasionally newsworthy. Every governor has roots and friends and to a certain extent those friends identify and help them do this complicated job.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The invasion of the super PACs

By Bill Kraus

They are not below the radar. Their assumption of power from what were once considered the legitimately powerful, like those we elect, is somewhere between widespread and universal.

A prominent state senator calls attention to the drift of power downward to the primary election level, and he describes it as the battle of the billionaires.

The once-powerful public unions have been defunded and dismissed.

The influence of the state’s largest business organization has waned as well. When WMC spoke up on an issue and idea that offended the totalitarians in the Capitol they got their knuckles rapped and beat a quick retreat.

But nobody messes with the super PACs.