Lobby Giant Is Scandal Casualty
January 10, 2006 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Lobby Giant Is Scandal Casualty One of Washington's top lobbying operations will shut down at the end of the month because of its ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former House majority leader Tom DeLay. Who do they represent? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Microsoft, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Courtesy the Washington Post.
posted by whozyerdaddy (64 comments total)
Looks like the current system fails yet again.
posted by whozyerdaddy at 7:48 PM on January 10, 2006

All that poor, unaccountable soft money and no politicians to spend it? I'm sure another lobbying firm will take its place.
posted by Rothko at 8:02 PM on January 10, 2006

Oh dear god... how is the US government going to properly represent the views of the corporate sector now?
posted by pompomtom at 8:02 PM on January 10, 2006

Enron, accounting scandals, casualties galore in the corporate world.

Abramoff, Alexander, ... casualties galore in the government world?

While Abramoff and his money seem to have been focused on Republicans, chuck 'em all out if they're dirty. My politics are leftish, but I have no patience for dirty pols, even if they're on my team. Hell, if they're dirty, they're not on my team, are they?
posted by socratic at 8:16 PM on January 10, 2006

socratic, I just wonder when we'll ever see any rightie posters on any thread anywhere on the net who are as honest as that. It shouldn't matter what political stripe a politician is: If they did bad, let them stew in prison, the worse the crime, the longer and more severe the time.
posted by mk1gti at 8:30 PM on January 10, 2006

i'd like to see BigPharma take it in the groin.
posted by brandz at 8:39 PM on January 10, 2006

posted by mwhybark at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2006

Fuck the government!

Too bad the democrats are no better. We'll just end up with someone corrupt but not corrupt enough to push themselves over the edge and into the abyss.
posted by delmoi at 9:09 PM on January 10, 2006

you know I've wondered off and on for quite awhile how the American government can stand. One would think in a democracy the government needs the majority of it's people to trust it and it seems that this has not been the case for a good chunk of time. (of course perhaps they really is a majority that does trust the govt. but I haven't seem any long term tracking of this, imo, fundamental statistic)

I can easily imagine many people "on the right" having the same opinion as socratic's basic premise, just as I can see many on the left having the "well if THEY can do it, so can we" self-feedback loop. It is just at the moment the big people on the right seem NOT to have those morals.

yeah, basically fuck the government and you KNOW that most people in that operation will end up doing the same work elsewhere shortly.
posted by edgeways at 9:19 PM on January 10, 2006

It's always weird to hear or read news and think "Oh yeah, I remember when that began... It was on Metafilter a couple months ago..."
And then to see a follow-up post is even weirder.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2006

I'm libertarian, so I play the token rightie on MeFi, from time to time. I agree with the sentiment: let the corupt bastards burn.

Of course, they're all dirty, to one degree or another. I wish I knew how to fix the system.
posted by Richard Daly at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2006

Edgeways: Things started going downhill when someone came up with the adage that the business of government is business.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 PM on January 10, 2006

It's going to continue this way, until we change it.
The American Government should die, so that America can live.
All the people, politicians and lobyists that haven't been indicted, will just change the buisiness name they deal under, and continue to screw us the same way or worse.
posted by Balisong at 9:31 PM on January 10, 2006

It's not even the ones we elect. It's the career beaurocrats that flow from administration to administration, they are as much or more the problem than anyone on the ballot.
posted by Balisong at 9:33 PM on January 10, 2006

balisong: amen. Entrenched bureaucracy is a cancer.
posted by socratic at 9:34 PM on January 10, 2006

That Abramoff guy's not real. He's just some computer generated image by the same guy that did Dick Tracy.
posted by HTuttle at 10:09 PM on January 10, 2006

Entrenched bureaucracy is no worse than the raft of political appointees that accompany any change in government.

The problem with most bureaucracies is that they wind up employing careerists with no real belief in public service.
posted by Ritchie at 10:13 PM on January 10, 2006

On the other hand, it's often the career bureaucrats who take the necessary long-term view, in opposition to politicians who just get elected, loot a few things, pass some personally profitable legislation, and retire to a career of influence peddling. In either case, there are some corrupt people and there are some honest people, and some of them are career bureaucrats and some of them are short-term politicians.
I've wondered off and on for quite awhile how the American government can stand
Maybe just because, as depressing as the workings of government are, a revolution would still be worse. Much worse. And there's no guarantee we'd end up with a working government post-revolution, either. Quite often, history shows us, one doesn't.
posted by hattifattener at 10:14 PM on January 10, 2006

So, in short, suck it up and love what you are dealt with, because the unknown of change is so scarry?

The entrencheded beaurocrats are banking on that.
posted by Balisong at 10:19 PM on January 10, 2006

They are all dirty

True, but some are more dirty than others. This is politics, not philosophy. You have to vote for someone and practically speaking the Republicans, right now, look worse than Democrats.
posted by stbalbach at 10:19 PM on January 10, 2006

Politics is dirty, but, um, AFAIK, no Democrats took money from Abramoff...
posted by Freen at 10:20 PM on January 10, 2006

and the beaurocrats don't give a lick which way you vote.
posted by Balisong at 10:21 PM on January 10, 2006

So, we're starting with Alexander Strategy. Does this mean we're going in alphabetical order?

Which company is next? Do they need to stop at the letter K?
posted by andreaazure at 10:31 PM on January 10, 2006

They will just start numbering their lobying groups...
posted by Balisong at 10:34 PM on January 10, 2006

Did anyone else read the first link and think "What the hell? 'Lobby Giant'? What a stupid name for a political lobbying organisation" ?

No? ok...
posted by slater at 11:21 PM on January 10, 2006

Can't more of them take a lesson from R. Budd Dyer? I'm staring to think he was a beacon of honor.
posted by sourwookie at 11:26 PM on January 10, 2006

Can't more of them take a lesson from R. Budd Dyer? I'm staring to think he was a beacon of honor.

Assuming you are referring to his suicide, you are a fucking idiot.
posted by milnak at 12:02 AM on January 11, 2006

Suicide is more honorable than being exposed as corrupt.
Many in Washington should take this clue.
posted by Balisong at 12:11 AM on January 11, 2006

maybe this should be on ask, but can anyone give a cogent explanation of why 'lobbying' is even considered a legitimate profession and not at least looked down on or even a considered a crime?
posted by [this is good] at 1:15 AM on January 11, 2006

I think it has to do with freedom of speech. Corporations are considered 'indivduals' and have all the rights of such, but are allowed to minimize risk to the actual individuals that comprise the corporation. Thus, lobbying on behalf of a corporation is theoretically a good things as it allows the individual corporation voice to be heard. Where it breaks down, imo, is so far under our market system $ = freedom of speech to some degree. The more $ you have the more your message can be heard. And who has more $ then corporations.

I agree that everyone is corrupt to some degree, we are only human and I have long held that there is inherent inefficiency to expect and allow for, the same goes for corruption. But there is a BIG difference in degree, and once someone passes a certain point you should nail them to the wall.
Regarding democrats and Abramoff, I heard on NPR there where at least two, and some Republicans where trying to play this up, but overwhelmingly it is a republican scandal. This mid-term election is going to be interesting, with Abramoff, the Texas gerrymandering case, Lott _may_ retire, Bush as a liability, etc etc. Still 9 months is a long time in American politics so who knows where we'll be n the fall
posted by edgeways at 2:08 AM on January 11, 2006

i was gonna ask, would a law against corporate money (directly to the candidate, or indirectly via lobbying groups) be legal? But I guess edgeways' comment answers that question...
posted by slater at 2:20 AM on January 11, 2006

If we redefined what constitutes a corporation, revoke the charter and start again, then perhaps we'd solve some problems. IIRC it was the 14th amendment, ostentatiously passed to ensure freed slaves would have access to the law, which allowed corporation to sue and demand individual rights. It is late and I may have the facts a little skewed so pardon me.
The Movie "The Corporation" is a decent primer on all of this. It have a liberal slant to be sure, but it wasn't beat you over the head slant imo. Others may disagree
posted by edgeways at 2:46 AM on January 11, 2006

Looks like the current system fails yet again.

What do you expect? Microsoft was a client. *Zing!*
posted by hal9k at 3:13 AM on January 11, 2006

I'd like to just point out that lobbying is not automatically evil. Lobbying is just the act of meeting with elected officials (or more often, their staff) to give them information as to the desires of a particular group of voters. The intended purpose of lobbying is educational: making a politician aware of your views, and providing him with facts he may not have. All kinds of citizen activist groups lobby, and even some well-connected private individuals (e.g., Bono).

Since our system of government requires that we elect people who are not philosopher kings, most of Congress comes to office without even the slightest bit of knowledge of the increasingly arcane topics on which they are expected to pass legislation. The lobbying process is intended to fill that gap, and in a perfect world people on all sides of an issue would be able to make their case to legislators, who would then pass laws based on their own judgement of the facts.

Imperfect system as it is, it is still sad to see lobbying become a synonym for corruption. But outlawing the process would just move the influence peddling to a new and lower profile channel. Some people are corrupt and will accept bribes, and others will always be there to offer them. Getting rid of lobbying will just hurt the smaller, less well financed groups, and will ensure that only the corporate sponsors have a voice in the process.

That having been said, I would love to see the elimination of this legal fiction that corporations have all the rights and none of the responsibilities of citizenship. In my view that is the single worst thing to happen to America, ever, and will be cited by future historians as the cause of our eventual collapse.
posted by mkhall at 3:16 AM on January 11, 2006

Sorry about this, but...
Please don't use TinyURL in this way. There is no call for URL shortening when using hyperlinks... Here is a lot of reference on URL shortening, and the opinions of many users too. I forgot to add all the times it came up in MetaTalk to that comment, so here goes...

As it turns out Mitheral pleaded for people to stop a long long time ago (December 2004), many agreed. Soon after Keyser Soze decided to try some mischief. It seemed for a while that the issue had gone away. But lo, six months ago it reared it's ugly head again! mathowie agreed that URL shortening should be scanned for and automatically removed from FPPs. neckro23 suggested that using social pressure to stop the evil might ease mathowie's workload.

Feel the pressure!
posted by Chuckles at 3:38 AM on January 11, 2006

Nice post though! even if it is missing the newsfilter tag. I'll stop now. Sorry...
posted by Chuckles at 3:43 AM on January 11, 2006

There was some URL-shortening service making the rounds recently that showed parts of the destination URL in the shortened URL, maybe that would be a better alternative?
posted by slater at 3:44 AM on January 11, 2006

And I'm sorry about this, but...
guessing "ostentatiously" may be meant as "ostensibly"...?

Anyway, I agree with you, edgeways, and mkhall. Even more than $$ = access through lobbying and therefore "free speech", I hear the argument that contribution of $$ ITSELF to a politician or campaign or party IS a form of free speech that is protected. Essentially the cash equals the "speech", so if you've got none then screw you. Seems absurd. Or worse.
Or I don't know.
posted by zoinks at 4:00 AM on January 11, 2006

mkhall, thanks for the simple two paragraph explanation of lobbying. I'll have to think a bit about paragraphs three and four.
posted by michswiss at 4:12 AM on January 11, 2006

balisong: amen. Entrenched bureaucracy is a cancer.

Something tells me that people in NOLA would rather have had the cancer than the republican version of the cure.

Who actually believes the lobby firm is actually really going away? They will just rebrand and be back in business in a month.
posted by srboisvert at 5:10 AM on January 11, 2006

Lobbying firms are more than a little one-sided now.

According to a report heard on the radio this morning, 33 of the top 36 lobbying organizations are now staffed by republicans, thanks to the efforts of the K Street Project. Which, by the way, is an organization founded in 1995 by Grover Norquist and DeLay to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions. Prior to the first Bush admministration, lobbying firms were pretty much split 50-50 between the democrats and republicans.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:14 AM on January 11, 2006

There are three core problems:

1) A Corporation is a person, but isn't.

2) Money is free speech.

3) It doesn't matter, we're at war, so the President, as "Commander in Chief", does what he wants anyway.

That second one is why lobbyists have become so powerful. They have money. Money, being free speech, isn't regulated in elections. So anyone can throw money at elections. Thus, elections have become costly.

Guess what a Senator or Representative spends most of his time on? Fundraising. Yes, this includes after they are elected, if they want to get reelected.

So, they need to become beholden to those with money to get elected, and stay beholded to stay in office.

However, given the current court, this factor will *never* change.

This is the only reason I support a one term limit. I'm completly against term limits otherwise -- if you have a good congressman, you should be able to keep them in office. But a one term rule limits the amount of beholding money can have -- if you can't get reelected, there's less reason to hunt for money. (There's the factor of "but you can run for a different federal office. Since there's really only three, this limits itself.)

Of course, this also will never happen.

The third is the real disaster -- it's a monarchy at best, dictatorship at the worst.
posted by eriko at 5:20 AM on January 11, 2006

The main reason that lobbyists enjoy disproportional representation with Congress is that most Americans can't be bothered to contact their Representatives or Senators. While I'm sure that this isn't true for most Metafilter members, the cynicism I see here makes me pause. Our system may be disproportionately influenced by corporations at times but the system is strong enough to be mended if only citizens will take an active part in it.

I have engaged in some lobbying for a bank. It is not as evil as you would make it out to be. We hired a Washington law firm to help us. All we did was write letters to all the legislators involved in the legislation we were interested in and let them know of our position on the annual appropriation for a quasi-governmental rail transportation agency. Our lawyers helped us identify who we should contact. No one asked for any donations or contributions to campaign funds. Who did we do this for? I guess you would have to say our shareholders, since no one in our corporation stood to benefit directly from the passage of the legislation. (I suppose we could have been fired if the loan went bad.) Who were our shareholders? I don't even know but I believe the largest were mostly pension funds and other large institutional investors who hold the savings of millions of Americans. Some of you may have ridden on our railcars. Was this evil? I don't think so.

These same rights are available to every United States citizen. With the advent of email, there is no excuse for not letting your representatives know where you stand. I challenge every person here to directly contact their elected representatives and engage in a dialogue related to some piece of legislation which interests them.

I live in Massachusetts and sent a letter recently to my rep (Barney Frank) voicing my opposition to the permanent extension of the Patriot Act. I believe that one of the main reasons it was not permanently extended was the noise that citizens raised against it. The legislation will come up again in the next few months. Citizens can make a difference in how it ultimately comes out. I urge you to pack away your cynicism and engage in civic action. You can make a difference.
posted by notmtwain at 5:29 AM on January 11, 2006

I have a problem with some of the terms here. "Casualty " and "disgraced." Was Enron a casualty ? I am not sure I ever saw that in print with Enron - another company with corruption weaved into the fabric of the company.
Disgraced? He's a felon (or to be more precise has admitted to a felony crime and is only waiting for the judge to pound the gavel.) Is a rapist disgraced?

I raise this because I am hopping mad at the cultural that we are getting a peak into because of these actions. Use of this language in a Washington Post report is disturbing to me.
posted by fluffycreature at 5:45 AM on January 11, 2006

Entrenched bureaucracy is a cancer.

I strongly disagree this that statement. Yea, there are some apathetic and lazy bureaucrats but many of them are hard working and dedicated and really want to make things better. Its the political appointees that are really screwing up these agencies by bending them to be tools of conservative ideology and business interests instead of the what they were chartered to do. The entrenched bureaucracy is one of the only things keeping the corporations from totally taking over.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 AM on January 11, 2006

Freen writes "Politics is dirty, but, um, AFAIK, no Democrats took money from Abramoff..."

This doesn't appear to be the case.
posted by samw at 7:18 AM on January 11, 2006

if you can't get reelected, there's less reason to hunt for money.

...except that you're going to need a job in 2 years unless you want your family to explore new and exciting forms of starvation. ISTR that post-government jobs became a significant form of bribes in one of the Latin American countries with limited terms, but don't have the book handy.

This doesn't appear to be the case.

It does appear to be the case. The link you point to has contributions from Abramoff --and-- many of his clients, not only from Abramoff. It is possible to receive a donation from an Indian tribe independently of Abramoff.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:37 AM on January 11, 2006

Kinda hard to feel sorry for these guys. But I suspect they'll turn our just fine. Change the name of the firm with something new, and, presto! change-o! They're back in the shady business they've been doing for the last 8 years.
posted by crunchland at 7:44 AM on January 11, 2006

Abramoff donated only to Republicans. He hired only Republicans, and only Republican's wives got no-show jobs. Only Republicans are under indictment, in fact only Republicans are even named in the indictments.

Who inserted langauge into the Congressional Record favorable to an Abramoff business deal? A Republican.

Even Rich Lowry at NRO gets it:
The GOP now craves such bipartisan cover in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Republicans trumpet every Democratic connection to Abramoff in the hope that something resonates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), took more than $60,000 from Abramoff clients! North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan used Abramoff's skybox! It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars. But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.

Abramoff is a Republican who worked closely with two of the country's most prominent conservative activists, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed. Top aides to the most important Republican in Congress, Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) were party to his sleazy schemes. The only people referred to directly in Abramoff's recent plea agreement are a Republican congressmen and two former Republican congressional aides. The GOP members can make a case that the scandal reflects more the way Washington works than the unique perfidy of their party, but even this is self-defeating, since Republicans run Washington.
posted by edverb at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2006

Anecdote- back when I was evil I worked briefly for the Alexander Group. I remember the day we first bombed Iraq, nobody got anything done because they were all zooming around the office yelling "shock and awe! shock and awe, motherfucker!" and bashing into each other on a bunch of Segway scooters that were "donated" from god knows where.
So yes, it is exactly like you'd think.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:04 AM on January 11, 2006

PS I'm almost insulted that nobody ever bothered to subpoena me. But all I could really say is "Warren seems to play an awful lot of golf."
So there you go.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:05 AM on January 11, 2006

In my opinion (among other things):

* Elections should financed out of the public treasury; money should not be considered speech; and television and radio should be required to give advertising to legitimate political candidtates;

* The Bill of Rights and the other Constitutional protections should apply only to natural persons; those in control of a corporation and/or those who approve, perform, or give aid to illegal actions shoul be held personally liable for those acts, irregardless of the corporate existance; corporations engaging in illegal conduct or in socializing costs should be dissolved.

* Directors of corporations should be allowed to include social costs in decision-making, noit just profit maximization; basically, since our society is giving the benefit of limited liablility to the investors and those who organize and run these businesses, they should at least have the option of not passing on externalized coststo the rest of us.

*It should be illegal for local governments to make special tax breaks and spending, above and beyond normal government infrastructure, to any corporation in return for their locating the business there. If a government wants to give tax breaks for businesses, the tax breaks should be equally available to all businesses.

I favor whatever changes in the law that would support these policy changes.
posted by JKevinKing at 10:36 AM on January 11, 2006

I wholeheartedly second the motion for publicly funded elections--my tax dollars would be well spent to stop all this fucking ridiculous influence-peddling for campaign funds. Imagine if congressmen and -women could actually show up to work and...you know...work, instead of immediately commencing fundraising for their next election.

Also, I second this point of view, from klangklangston: "Things started going downhill when someone came up with the adage that the business of government is business."

The dominance of the business paradigm has corrupted many of our most important institutions (education, anyone?), but none moreso than government. As the current CEO administration vividly illustrates, for many involved in running our country, their primary duty is to make things favorable for business.

A revolution is not needed--I believe in our system, very much. I just don't believe in most of the people in it.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:50 AM on January 11, 2006

* Elections should financed out of the public treasury

Folks, I'm Crazy Xeny of Xenophobe's Imperious Palace of Low Low Prices and I wanna be your Representative. I've been a part of Townville for umpty years, and I've already been serving you by keeping prices so low I've been institutionalized seven times for my own protection! Why, I'm still serving you by offering you this fine Whatchamathingy for the amazing low price of $29.99! Now I wanna be your Congressman, where I can serve you in Washington and keep prices low there, but I just wanna let you know that even then I'll keep my store at 123 Fake Street open so that you can buy the finest merchandise at the lowest prices! Crazy Xeny for Congress now and for bargain prices forever!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:22 AM on January 11, 2006

Do you like incumbency?

Public financing locks in incumbents. Public financing is an Incumbents Protection Plan.

If you don't like it, then don't support public financing or else you will suffer from unintended consequences.
posted by dios at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2006

Are there places where public financing is in place, and have shown that it locks incumbents in place? In other words, is there evidence that this is the case, or is this just "conventional wisdom"?

I don't see how it could be worse than our current pander-to-big-business-and-labor-unions-to-raise-money system of campaign finance. Seems to me that, with equal financing, every campaign is on an equal footing, and might put the emphasis on what a candidate actually thinks, rather than how extensively he/she can be marketed. It might also make elected reps accountable for what they actually do that benefits people, rather than how happy they make their big campaign donors.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:47 AM on January 11, 2006

Incumbent protection plans include massive warchests which scare off challengers, and gerrymandered districts.

Public financing locks in incumbents. Public financing is an Incumbents Protection Plan.

How so?

What's the incumbency rate now? 96% or so? It can hardly get much worse. I can mention several potential positives for public financing, but I'm interested to hear your arguments agaiinst it. How does a level playing field benefit incumbents?

Folks, I'm Crazy Xeny of Xenophobe's Imperious Palace of Low Low Prices and I wanna be your Representative.

And assuming you're qualified -- if you can gather the necessary petition signatures, you can get on the ballot. If not, not. If not, no public financing for you.
posted by edverb at 11:52 AM on January 11, 2006

There have studies done by Bradley Smith which show that public financing (or any spending cap) locks in incumbents. (You can see them in his book which I recommend... and I want to say that either Arend Lijphart or Mark Rush showed that to be the case as well..). I believe it is in Connecticut or Maine or something that this was shown in their Clean Elections Act.

I'll see if I can dig some of it up later tonight.
posted by dios at 11:56 AM on January 11, 2006

Public financing locks in incumbents. Public financing is an Incumbents Protection Plan.

How so?

The general thumbnail explanation is this:

Incumbents enjoy a natural advantage of name recognition. Studies show that such an advantage can be overcome by spending money to get the challenger's name recognition. But if the challenger is limited in the amount of money he has or can spend, he can't over come that beginning disadvantage.

So, in the most basic terms, imagine you have two people on a football field and that they both have to 5 mph (the effect of spending caps) to see who is going to win the race, but the incumbent gets to start on the 20 yard line and the challenger at the goal line. If they have to run at the same speed, the challenger cannot overcome the incumbent. Instead, the challenger needs to be able to spend great resources to overcome the natural disadvantage (see, e.g., Corzine). And the studies all show this theory played out.
posted by dios at 12:00 PM on January 11, 2006

The effect of money in congressional elections is substantially more complex than that, and *very* hard to figure out. The problem is one of endogeneity or simultaneity.

The more money you have as a candidate, the better you should expect to do.


The better you can expect to do as a candidate, the more money you'll be able to get, because donors don't generally like throwing money at a candidate who can only win if the other candidate dies or gets caught in an outright scandal.

Disentangling these two factors is hard to do statistically and the resulting models usually end up being pretty unsatisfactory for technical reasons.

In your average US House race, giving the challenger more money won't make a damn bit of difference because most challengers are hopeless, low-quality candidates who've never won a single, solitary election for any public office at all in their entire lives, who have very weak networks of contacts, and who might not even have any real firm intent of winning the office. Challengers who have some realistic chance of defeating an incumbent have little trouble raising substantial campaign funds, even here and now.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:16 PM on January 11, 2006

dios : Incumbents enjoy a natural advantage of name recognition. Studies show that such an advantage can be overcome by spending money to get the challenger's name recognition. But if the challenger is limited in the amount of money he has or can spend, he can't over come that beginning disadvantage.

Unless the challenger is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Okay, okay I'm being contrary. Point taken.
posted by Ritchie at 4:22 PM on January 11, 2006

So you tweak it with term limits, 2 or 3 goes should be sufficient yes?

Currently the challenger must spend big $ for name recognition so incumbent feels he must fundraise instead of being at work and spend greater amounts to counter the bump the challenger may receive, so the challengers must spend more money... etc.
imo this is not a tenable system.
Looks like Mr. Smith is a strong propionate of complete deregulation of campaigns, which would be something I would be strongly opposed to. I agree with Mr. Smith that certain things need to be dismantled but I am not a fan of deregulation.

Even that bastion of liberalism Newt Gingrich was talking the other morning on NPR. He accused both parties of setting up a system to protect incumbents from losing elections, because they have so much money that people generally don’t even bother running against them. If I understood correctly, he said fundraising shouldn't be allowed in Washington, because that’s not where the constituents are.
posted by edgeways at 6:12 PM on January 11, 2006

This cracked me up
posted by srboisvert at 6:50 AM on January 12, 2006

"Do you like incumbency?

Public financing locks in incumbents. Public financing is an Incumbents Protection Plan.

If you don't like it, then don't support public financing or else you will suffer from unintended consequences."

(By Dios)

I disagree that "[p]ublic financing locks in incumbents."
posted by JKevinKing at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2006

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