What, an election just happened?

The CINCH:

As the 2014 mid-term election reaches record highs, it only begs the question: where is this money coming from? What role does money have in politics? What is dark money?

The RUNDOWN:

The Nov. 4 mid-term elections have come and gone, and now we are in the wake of the partisan battlefield. Although the mid-term elections are far less sexy than their presidential counterparts, they’re just as impactful. This year, potential voters were bombarded with a plethora of smear campaigns; T.V. Advertisements, billboards, posters — you name it, culminating in record numbers in spending. Multiple outlets, including Fox News, Bloomberg, Time and others, have reported that projected spending in this year’s mid-term election will top four billion dollars. With that said, I’d be lying if I told you I was shocked by this record — I’m not. We’re Americans, spending is what we do. I’m interested in where this money comes from and who exactly is providing it.

Dark money refers to money used to pay for an election campaign, the source of said money remains undisclosed, or “dark”, to voters prior to voting. I’m interested in dark money, where does it come from, why is it undisclosed, and what place does it have in the electoral process? I am of the firm belief that money and politics should not lay together as intently as they do.

The Texas Ethics Commission, an organization established in 1991 to provide guidance on ethical laws within the state of Texas, recently approved a rule that forces any social welfare organization that spends more than 25 percent on political action to disclose their donors. This is definitely a step in the right direction, the vote to approve the measure was 8-0 to approve the measure according to mySA. What will it take to impose such a rule on the federal level?

Texas Public Radio’s The Source recently did a piece about this subject. Joe Nixon, a counsel member for Empower Texans, an independently formed organization looking to “empower all Texans with creating a strong fiscal stewardship within all levels of the government,” (per their website) spoke with host David Martin Davies about dark money. Joe Nixon was adamantly against the notion of undisclosed funds.

He sited the federalist papers, which are a collection of 85 articles written by James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. These papers influenced the U.S. Constitution, unarguably the most important document in American history. Council member Nixon referenced the anonymity of the papers during their inception, and how important the anonymous nature of the papers were.

In the past, the state of Alabama has looked to un-disclose donors to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in light of the NAACP encouraging black citizens to come out and vote. At the time, the decision was completely shot down, and for good reason. During the civil rights movement, donors to the NAACP needed anonymity in order to ensure their safety. Before the Voting rights Act, minorities had been systematically bullied from polling places by way of poll taxes, literacy test and physical intimidation.

That situation and the situation today is completely different. In modern America, it is naïve to believe that bullying minorities in the early and mid 1900’s is comparable to the transparency of donors today.

I’m completely aware that campaigns can’t fund themselves. It takes money to pay for rallies, advertisements, campaign workers, etc. My point is this: where will the line be drawn? Elections should be about one thing and one thing only — the policies. Not about who looks better or who is more charismatic or even who can raise more campaign funds. The policies are the only thing that should matter. I don’t think that one campaign should gain the unfair advantage of having more exposure than the next. When money is involved, it’s always destined to be unfair to someone.

References:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/10/31/what-campaign-spending-americans-spend-more-on-halloween-than-on-all-midterm/http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Ethics-commission-approves-dark-money-regulation-5856198.php

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/10/27/Obscene-Campaign-Spending-2014-Midterms-Nears-4B

http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libweb.lib.utsa.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=2&sid=61d86f29-2673-42c2-95c7-4b34441018fb%40sessionmgr4003&hid=4111&bdata=JnNjb3BlPXNpdGU%3d#db=a9h&AN=99042292&anchor=toc

http://tpr.org/post/source-dark-money-and-campaign-shenanigans-era-billion-dollar-elections

http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fedpapers.html

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