By Tom Tillison
Florida Political Press
“You have to pay your admission fee to the process.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports that a political fund set up by House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford collected $50,000 from two unions — and another $25,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce — part of a stunning $459,000 he raised in less than two months before the March 8 start of the 60-day lawmaking session.
The Sentinel goes on to state that campaign-finance data released this week show that Weatherford's fund led a pack of seven set up by current and future GOP leaders that grossed a stunning $1.4 million in two months – a third of what the entire RPOF raised in the same period.
The money came from utilities, insurers, political concerns like U.S. Sugar, unions and other interest groups with often-conflicting agendas hoping to win out in the session.
Looking at this on the surface, we have special interest groups, corporations and unions pumping thousands of dollars into the coffers of those who wield the most influence in the state legislature just prior to it going into session. Of course, the players involved toss around all the right catch phrases, such as saying “it’s their way of supporting our ideals".
And it's necessary to point out that it's all perfectly legal under the laws of this state. Of course, those who are on the receiving end of this largess are the ones who create these laws.
Naturally, it's just not possible for us little ol' tea party people to grasp the complexities of the issue and there will be those who quickly jump in with freedom of speech concerns.
But looking at it from a simplistic point of view, as we simple tea partiers are want to do, if you own a corporation and you contribute $50,000 to a political party, do you not do so with the expectation of 'consideration' on legislation that affects your business?
And if you are that party, does the large sum not give you reason to pause when priorities are being set? Of course, we know how these questions are answered by the players involved.
Interestingly, and this is coming from the Left, it does seem that some are a bit more realistic than others.
"In a political system ruled by money, the organization with the most money wins," said AFSCME Florida legislative director Doug Martin, explaining the union's $50,000 contribution to the RPOF. In a state where Republicans control everything - and we represent a lot of Republicans - that is just a cold political reality," he said. "You have to pay your admission fee to the process."
If Americans are ever going to change the political culture in this country for the better, if the citizens of this country are really going to get serious about ending the corruption in the political process, then it must start with addressing the laws that regulate campaigns and elections and the laws that govern the lobbying trade.
Until then, those who benefit the most from the status quo will continue to have every advantage. By design.