Money in politics isn’t new or fatal

Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 23:21 - Written by

Once again, the left is pointing to Colorado as an example of the evils of “money in politics,” as if that’s a new thing. The problem is that Colorado has provided the nation with the clearest proof that money doesn’t buy elections. Voters are smarter than that.

“The most prominent donors in national politics are pouring money into the sleepy, sprawling suburbs east of Denver,” warns Politico. “Liberal financier George Soros forked over $5,200 — the legal limit — to the Democrat in the race. Both David Koch and hedge fund tycoon Paul Singer gave almost the same amount to the Republican incumbent.”

The website warns of the dangers that these donations — enabled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — pose to our republic.

“Their involvement in the race has little to do with Romanoff or Coffman — or hard-fought local issues like the delayed construction of a veterans hospital or immigration reform,” Politico says. “Instead, in a year when most of the attention is focused on the battle for the Senate, this is one of the few genuinely competitive races in the House — even catching the attention of President Barack Obama this week. Wealthy donors clearly see the Coffman-Romanoff matchup as an opportunity to sway power in Washington.”

But political donations have always been seen as efforts to curry political favor. What’s new about this race? It’s corporate donations and big donations, Politico contends.

But those aren’t new.

And as a recent election in this very state shows, dire warnings about the ruination of democracy by money are overblown.

Last September, two state lawmakers who supported a gun control bill were subjected to a recall vote by their constituents. And those lost their seats in that recall election — despite the millions and millions of dollars poured into the state by their outside supporters.

The NRA supported the recall efforts with about $400,000 in political donations. Opponents of the recall spent much, much more.

“The shocking defeat Tuesday night of two state lawmakers in Colorado’s first-ever legislative recall election despite a 7-1 spending advantage by gun control proponents represented a double blow for Democrats,” the Washington Times reported last October. “Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron lost their seats despite massive outside help from gun control forces, led by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.”

Those groups, including Organizing for America, took advantage of the Citizens United decision just as much as the NRA did.

And so are both sides in the current Colorado matchup. Romanoff, the Democrat, claims that he won’t take money from political action committees (PACs). But even Politico admits that promise is hollow.

“But Romanoff has taken thousands of dollars from Democratic lawmakers who don’t mind corporate largesse,” Politico reports. “Romanoff has also taken tens of thousands of dollars from lobbyists in Washington and Denver, including representatives from hospitals, oil companies and the beverage industry.”

Those dollars won’t matter nearly as much as the left fears (or hopes). Why? Because voters are smarter than that.