Monday, April 6, 2009

Why political contributions are important

Today's installment deals with political contributions. Political giving is often portrayed as something shady done in the back rooms of some dark corner of the Statehouse. In reality, political contributions give groups and individuals the opportunity to state their case.

In my experience, most legislators/public officials want to get reelected. In order to get reelected, they need to campaign. Campaigns involve spending money on advertising (flyers, yard signs, tv/radio, etc.), staff expenses and miscellaneous expenses such as political and community events.

So when do lobbying groups give to a candidate or official (and by lobbying groups I mean lobbyists and those who hire lobbyists)? When there is a supportive candidate of that group's cause, or when the candidate's opponent is just offensive to that group.

My giving a $1,000 check to a legislator or candidate is likely going to mean that I can either take them to lunch or dinner and spend a little time talking about my issue with them. Of course there are other ways of doing it, but the legislator also sees it as a public declaration that my group supports him/her more than the other candidate. That is pretty important to most legislators. If I'm a candidate and I can say that I've received support from the Chamber of Commerce, IBEW, Farm Bureau (or insert your own group here), that plays well with individuals in the community.

My giving doesn't mean he or she will make every vote I make. It just means that I think he or she is more likely to support my issues or cause than others. Or it can also mean that I would like to begin developing a relationship with him or her because I think there is a possibility that I can work with them over a period of time and build a case for my issue.

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