10-21-15 – Leahy Shows Where The Real Big Money In Politics

by Rob Roper

We’re just about a year away from the November 2016 election, which means people will start paying closer attention and the politicians will start ratcheting up their rhetoric. Get ready to hear lots of yelping about Citizens United and the fact that there’s too much money in politics.

Well, there is too much money in politics, but it’s not the kind Bernie Sanders is railing about. For the real problem with money in politics we need to go to Sen. Patrick Leahy’s website press page. But, before we do, here are a few numbers to put things in perspective…

In the entire two-year cycle for the 2012 election in Vermont, Peter Shumlin and Randy Brock combined spent $1,127,408 on the gubernatorial election. For 2014, Shumlin and Scott Milne spent slightly more, but still less than $1.2 million.

In 2012, Lenore Broughton caused a stir by spending about $1 million through a SuperPac, Vermonters First. On the Left, folks like green energy mogul, David Blittersdorf, donates tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars directly and through corporations to candidates who will support their causes.

This seems like a lot of money. It is a lot of money. Until you compare it to headlines like, Leahy, UVM Officials Announce More Than $15 M In Grants For Research And Extension Work. . . Vermont Reaps More Benefits From The 2014 Farm Bill.

Or, from October 9th, Leahy Announces $8.7 Million For State’s Crime Victims And Victims Of Domestic And Sexual Assault.

Or October 8th, Leahy: More Than $3 Million Headed To Vermont To Boost Law Enforcement And Criminal Justice Programs.

Or October 7th, Leahy: Vermont Nets Federal Funds To Invest Nearly $650,000 In Local Foods Infrastructure.

Now, some will say with justification that this is just a U.S. Senator doing his job, but let’s also not be so naive as to pretend this cash and the timing of its dispersion isn’t in great part political. To put it bluntly, this is the practice of buying votes with taxpayer dollars. Direct payments to constituents. And in just the past couple of weeks, Patrick Leahy has flashed around town more that ten times the amount the two gubernatorial candidates spent in total in 2014.

The same can be said of national spending. Tom Steyer on the Left and the Kochs on the right have pledged to spend about a billion apiece on the 2016 election cycle. As much as a billion dollars is (a lot), the federal government spends ten times that much money every day, much if not all of it just as Sen. Leahy is spending his share here in Vermont – to buy votes.

The differences between the money the Kochs and Styers of the world spend and what Leahy and the rest of the incumbents out there spend are that the private citizens earned their money and can only spend it through highly regulated outlets. It is spent on ads and activities that try to persuade fellow citizens, not on direct payments with a nod and a wink. Can you imagine if Charles and David Koch gave away $2.2 billion worth of mobile phone service directly to voters with a strong hint of who to vote for if you take it (think Obamaphone)?

So, we have to ask the question, how can private citizens or candidates challenging incumbent politicians fight back against opponents with near limitless cash to spread around, and free media exposure when they do it? The answer is not to limit how they raise and spend money.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Marion Clegg October 23, 2015 at 9:11 pm

I would think it is about time Vermonters started waking up and smell the roses! Did the Republican Party leave the State? John do we need to raise up the Vermont Republican Assembly again? We need some GOOD conservative Republicans in Washington and Vermont. Call it fall house cleaning!


Robert October 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm

The Republican Party didn’t leave, but Vermont has been internally colonized by the far left, starting back in the 60’s. We used to be the most conservative state in the Union by far. Now arguably we are the most liberal. In the past, traditional Vermont values always included working for whatever you had. Self-sufficiency was a source of pride for Vermonters, and it never occurred to them that the government would support them. But with people like Leahy in office for 4 decades buying votes, and people like Bernie Sanders training people that they are entitled to free stuff, Vermont is no longer itself. It’s unlikely things will change until the “progressives” (ironic misnomer) have caused our economy to collapse. Then rational adults will have to roll up their sleeves, inform the entitlement babies they’re going to have to start working, and set about fixing the liberal mess.


Robert October 24, 2015 at 12:32 pm

One glaring omission by the Founding Fathers is term limits. Although they had superior foresight, they never envisioned parasitic politicians who would want to live off the public for 40 years or more, like Leahy. And likely they never envisioned those politicians would use the Treasury to re-purchase their office each election cycle. The Founders had integrity and ethics and wanted to do what was right for our fledgling country. There is no rational reason for Leahy, or anyone to be in Congress for 40 years. But as the article stated, when you dump millions into your home state at election time, you can be assured you’ve bought and paid for your seat again. I do not know what is more embarrassing; the fact that voter payoff is so public and obvious, or the fact that Vermonters allow themselves to be bought.


Jim Bulmer October 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

It’s always the Koch brothers. Has anyone ever heard of George Soros, the emigrant who came here, made millions and is now trying to tear down the very system which enabled him to make his millions by supporting all the liberal give away Dems?????


Mark Donka October 25, 2015 at 3:52 am

I love it when the VT Delegates Leahy,Sanders and Welch complain about citizens united. Look at the moneys they have spent in their elections. Leahy has about 7-8 million in his war chest. When I ran against Peter Welch in 2014 I spent less than $10,000 on my campign. Welch spent around $650,000. This just proves that the Democrats don’t mind talking the talk, but won’t walk the walk. It precludes the working person from doing a successful campaign and discourages people from running. We tried to get Congressman Welch to do several more debates so VT would hear what I stood for but he refused.


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