For those of you who think we spend all day ferreting through campaign finance reports trying to nail wrongdoers -- we don't (although you are certainly welcome to). We're trying to educate people on the wholesale abuses of money and power now considered to be business as usual in our electoral system and change that system. We're not trying to stop legitimate campaign donations or make candidates afraid to approach their friends for contributions. But it can be incredibly frustrating trying to get a message out in these short attention span times, especially when the short attention spans *start* with media reporters. From Democracy NC's Link of the Day, written by our Exec Director Bob Hall.
A reporter from the Associated Press called yesterday for a comment about the discovery that Secretary of State Elaine Marshall had raised $2,500 from five registered NC lobbyists in her bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Marshall regulates some aspects of lobbying, and lobbyists are not permitted to donate to any incumbent candidate for state office, but that restriction doesn’t apply to candidates for federal office. The reporter asked if I thought Marshall should be criticized for taking the donations. I laughed. It was another simple-minded, “gotcha story” the media is thrilled to latch on; meanwhile, the larger abuses of actual self-interested money by the tons polluting politics are apparently too difficult for reporters and editors to track down. I asked the AP reporter a couple questions: the money is part of the $440,000 she’s raised so far and it’s from lobbyists who have known her for decades, before she was Secretary of State; the lobbyists are not under investigation, nor is there any quid pro quo suspected. I said she might return or refuse such donations as part of making an issue of how we need a better campaign finance system, but I didn’t think these particular donations were worth criticizing.
The reporter didn’t like my answer, so he went to another good government spokesperson and got the quote he wanted for his story. It’s another example of our media’s warped sense of “educating” the public about politics and government.