"More big money can only leave less hope for voters."
9/26/15, "The Soaring Price of Political Access," NY Times Editorial Board (Sun., 9/27 print ed.)
"Politicians busy soliciting ever-larger donations from eager millionaires epitomize the truth of a 12-year-old Supreme Court ruling on contribution limits: “Money, like water, will always find an outlet.”
This year, the political money is flowing more like overpriced wine, with the two national parties reported to be planning tenfold increases in the rates V.I.P. donors will be charged to secure the right to attend exclusive dinners and presidential convention forums with candidates and party leaders.
This means that top-tier Republican donors will pay $1.34 million per couple for the privilege of being treated as party insiders, while the Democratic Party will charge about $1.6 million, according to The Washington Post.
Four years ago the most an individual could give to a national party was $30,800. This time, that top $1.34 million ticket for a couple in the Republican National Committee’s Presidential Trust tier, reserved for the “most elite R.N.C. investors,” promises “influence messaging and strategy” opportunities at exclusive party dinners and retreats, according to a description obtained by The Post.
More big money can only leave less hope for voters concerned that the richest donors are buying ever more influence over politicians, with favoritism and corruption an inevitable result. And the money competition only intensifies. The Democrats, fearing they are being left behind by the Republicans’ money raisers, are considering a far more aggressive use of super PACs, in House and Senate campaigns too, according to a recent report by Nicholas Confessore in The Times.
Top Democratic election lawyers asked the Federal Election Commission this month to approve dubious shortcuts around the law that Republican candidates already have been taking. One example is the “testing the waters” strategy that Jeb Bush used to raise tens of millions of dollars for his supposedly “independent” super PAC while pretending his candidacy was not a certainty.
The Democrats’ request shows just how far gone the whole campaign finance system is. The Republicans have rendered the election commission completely dysfunctional by blocking regulatory decisions and refusing to take action against improper practices. And now the Democrats are trying to get official approval of the very practices that eviscerate the law.
While Democrats led by Hillary Rodham Clinton have called for broad reforms of campaign fund-raising, Mrs. Clinton and party leaders say they will emulate Republican tactics in going after big money if that’s what it takes to compete. At what cost to democracy is the looming question for voters."