Down here in Senate District 36, we were trying to come up with an idea to raise some funds to help our 2012 candidates. When we contacted the Campaign Finance Board with a couple ideas, we were told we could not do any kind of a raffle. We ended up doing a silent auction. We had golf balls, buttons, mugs, signed books, you know the typical stuff. One thing we didn’t have was a legislator. Raffles are a no no, but apparently it is legal and acceptable to auction off access to congressmen and state legislators.
City Pages recent story “Carver County Republican Party tries to auction off legislators, then denies it” reports:
“There’s nothing illegal about auctioning off access to U.S. Congressmen and high-ranking state lawmakers to the highest bidder.”
I had no idea. I would have just assumed that to be illegal. I know you can have $2,000 a plate dinners, and special meet and great events based on donation levels, but the actual physical auction of a politician just seems extra dirty.
Sally Jo Sorensen and her news site Bluestem Prairie has done a great job of making this public.
“While all of those who passed this on to Bluestem are registered lobbyists, without additional investigation, we cannot assert here that only lobbyists received an offer to bid on Republican legislators. We might also assume, for instance, that corporate CEOs, bank fat cats, private sector ALEC members, and other folks who who might wish to bid on chance to golf-with-a-shotgun with lawmakers, also have been given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
And they don’t have to worry if they don’t have their own shotgun, shells or experience. The invitation continues:
If you are not able to attend this event, please do your contacts a favor and forward this email on to others that could benefit from this opportunity.”
Did you notice that last line? I know the pronoun usage of “that” rather than “who” is grating, but not what I want you to concentrate on. It says “forward this email on to others that could benefit from this opportunity.” This is definitely being promoted as an opportunity for somebody to have one-on-one access to somebody like John Kline, who might be willing to sell his vote, or introduce a law written by the lucky winner — an “opportunity” at least.
It is no wonder that the Carver County Republicans quickly removed this event when it became public. This is obviously nothing more than a smarmy way to let the fat cats and insiders control Republican politics a little more, while the rest of us giving ten bucks to our favorite politicians get treated like little kids at one of those spinning twisting coin drop donation bins just hoping for a little personal gratification in the end.