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Candidates’ Campaign Cash

By Amy Hart in News on Jan 12, 2006 1:00PM

Politics and money. Like it or not, the two go together like vodka and tonic (and often leave you with a similar hangover). You can’t get elected without campaigning, and you can’t campaign without cash—preferably lots of it.


For all the talk about campaign finance reform and the twisted influence money often has in politics, not a whole lot has been done to divorce the power money confers from politicians and their campaigns. Sometimes it seems that politicians are spending so much time raising campaign funds that they barely find time to actually govern.

That certainly is a charge being leveled at Governor Blagojevich by Democratic challenger Edwin Eisendrath. Earlier this week Eisendrath said Blago has spent his reign as governor on a non-stop political fundraising drive. Eisendrath estimates that Blago has raised over $2500 per hour since becoming governor, and compared that to George Ryan’s now seemingly measly fundraising efforts. We have to give Eisendrath some credit here for basically inferring Blago is worse than George Ryan—that is definitely not an association the Blagojevich campaign wants voters to make.

In an attempt to show that he wants to be governor and not just a fundraiser, Eisendrath has pledged that, if elected, he will not raise any funds for his first three years as governor, or until strict campaign finance and lobbying laws are passed.

Eisendrath is not alone in his pledge. Republican candidate Ron Gidwitz has vowed not to conduct any political fundraising for his first two years in office if elected. Gidwitz also challenged other candidates to do the same, but they don't seem to be too excited about the prospect. And we don't necessarily blame them--like we said before, candidates definitely need money if they want to make a serious run for office.

Republican candidate Jim Oberweis said taking campaign contributions is fine as long as the contributor does not expect anything in return. That all sounds well and good, but contributors certainly want something in return for their money. And we don't believe that giving money to a candidate has no effect on the way they approach governing, even if it is on a subconscious level.

There’s one more minor thing here that bears mentioning. Gidwitz and Eisendrath are rich, very rich, and they may not necessarily need quick access to funds once elected. And what happens when their self imposed time limits to not raise campaign funds end? Will they then turn into fundraising zombies?

We really do hope that whoever wins the governor’s office will limit the time they spend fundraising and that meaningful campaign finance reform can really be accomplished, but we’re not getting our hopes up. Once candidates get into office, they seem to start thinking that the system worked for them, so why should they go out of their way to change it? Please prove us wrong.