Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Sam Smith: The Bribe That Dares Not Use Its Name

The Bribe That Dares Not Use Its Name

By Editor Sam Smith

Private campaign financing is a form of bribery, which Merriam-Webster defines as "money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust." NotE that the gift doesn't have to be illegal to qualify; it's the intent that matters.

Normally, the bribe hides comfortably behind the myth of "campaign contributions," based on the assumption that since everybody does it, it's okay.

But Washington, DC, is something of a special case. Because it is so heavily Democratic, the races are almost always settled at the primary level. This year Adrian Fenty won the mayoral contest. There will be a general election next Tuesday but no one - not even his Statehood Green or Republican opponents - expect him to have the slight problem winninG.

Nonetheless, between the primary and now Fenty has received nearly a half million dollars in contributions, a considerable amount from backers of his opponent in the primary.

Mark Seagraves of WTOP radio news described it: "Big businesses are jumping on the Fenty bandwagon to the tune of $2,000 apiece. The Marriott Corp., usually associated with Republican candidates, donated the maximum $2,000. Fenty's donor list is a who's who of local and national big business.

"Advertising powerhouse Clear Channel did its part with a $2,000 check, so did Ted Lerner, the new owner of the Washington Nationals. In fact, many of the members of the Nationals ownership have pitched in thousands. . .

"WTOP Political Analyst Mark Plotkin says, 'This giving is so predictable. It's called 'don't anger the incumbent.' It's insurance money.' . . . .

"Job seekers are doing their part as well. Many of those on the donor list are current and former members of the Williams administration who have expressed interest in working for Fenty, should he win the general election.

"Law firms, developers, unions, parking lot operators, and even the group that was denied a permit to use the Potomac River for a triathlon, have submitted contributions. . .

"'This is what big winners do. They take money from anybody and everybody, hit 'em up when you're hot. In this case, I don't even think he has to ask,' Plotkin says.

If you give money to a candidate under such circumstances, you do it "in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust." It's a legal bribe that attempts to do precisely the same thing as an illegal bribe. The only difference is that there is no penalty.


Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source
1312 18th St. NW #502 Washington DC 20036
202-835-0770 Fax: 835-0779

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Binoy Kampmark: Biden’s Victory: A Eunuch Presidency Beckons

Whatever was set to happen on November 3, President Donald J. Trump would not lose. Falling in that establishment firebreak against democracy known as the Electoral College would not erase, let alone repudiate him. His now victorious opponent, far ... More>>

Reese Ehrlich: Foreign Correspondent: The Challenge For Joe Biden

If he’s smart, the likely President-elect will stop the unpopular endless wars and use the money to help our domestic economy. By Reese Erlich I’m pissed. I’m pissed at Donald Trump for trying to shut down the vote count early and at Republicans More>>

Boris Johnson At Sea: Coronavirus Confusion In The UK

The tide has been turning against UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Oafishly, he has managed to convert that tide into a deluge of dissatisfaction assisted by the gravitational pull of singular incompetence. Much of this is due to such errors of ... More>>

The Conversation: Biodiversity: Where The World Is Making Progress – And Where It’s Not

The future of biodiversity hangs in the balance. World leaders are gathering to review international targets and make new pledges for action to stem wildlife declines. Depending on whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty person, you’re likely ... More>>

The Conversation: The Numbers Suggest The Campaign For Cannabis Reform In NZ Will Outlive The Generations That Voted Against It

Like Brexit in the UK, cannabis reform in New Zealand fell into an age gap — given time, a second referendum would probably succeed. More>>

Gordon Campbell: 22 Short Takes On The US Election

Finally, the long night of Donald Trump’s presidency is over. To date, the courts have been given no cause to conclude that the exhaustively lengthy counts of those mountains of mail ballots was anything other than legal. Stacking the US Supreme ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On How The US Supreme Court Is Undermining American Democracy

If Joe Biden is elected President next week, here comes the bad news. If Biden tries to defend Obamacare, combat climate change (via say, a variant of the Green New Deal) or tries to improve the access of US women to abortion services , he will run afoul ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog