Vote for Jimmy Wingnut
Image Source – keltickritters.com
We’ve all heard the expression: “I wouldn’t vote for Jimmy Wingnut (or whomever), even if he was running for dog catcher!”Well, it appears that Jimmy has a pretty good chance of being elected these days, thanks to the Citizens United (CU) “gift” presented to local corporate and special interest organizations by the Supreme Court of the United States. Most of the CU media focus has been at the federal and state level. But, an equally important negative impact of this ruling is being felt within our counties and cities.
Take for example the upcoming election for seats on the Scottsdale, Arizona city council. To the average Scottsdale resident, the candidates appear to be normal “shaking hands and kissing babies” politicians – except that three of the candidates are getting considerably more local air-time than usual. If anyone looks closely, they will find that all three of these candidates have one thing in common – they have each received $29 thousand in non-candidate funded advertisements, legally (thanks to CU) paid for by Southwest Ambulance Inc. Normally, individual candidate spending on these local campaigns total about 10% of this amount.
Southwest Ambulance has been trying to persuade the City of Scottsdale to put their ambulance services out to open bidding, but have failed in the past by one vote in the city council. If any (or all) of these three candidates are elected, this would most certainly break the open-bid deadlock. Southwest’s investment of $87 thousand in three candidates would reap financial rewards in the $hundreds of thousands in the future.
An important point here is that this type of behind-the-scenes funding of candidates would normally go unnoticed by local voters. In fact, if it wasn’t for the investigative reporting done by Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic, we wouldn’t have known about the Southwest Ambulance pay-to-play scheme. Even then, inasmuch as Laurie’s article received back-page coverage, it is unlikely that many Scottsdale voters are aware of this issue.
One has to believe that this type of behind-the-scenes buying of local elections must be going on throughout the country. In addition to the undemocratic concerns created by these back-room deals, many moral questions have been raised in regard to the private company take-over of public services. The recent Tennessee Fire Non-Response story is a good case-in-point.
In addition, local judiciary elections have become a major concern as a result of the Citizens United ruling. In February, Bill Moyers aired an excellent presentation on the local election of judges. According to Moyers:
“The Citizens United decision means… elected judges are even more susceptible to the corrupting influence of cash, because many of their decisions in civil cases directly affect corporate America, and a significant amount of the money judges raise for their campaigns comes from lobbyists and lawyers.
There's now a crooked sign hanging on every courthouse in America reading ‘Justice for Sale’."
Local corporations and special interest groups are just beginning to recognize the golden opportunities provided to them as a result of the Citizens United ruling. Soon America Inc. will have many local subsidiaries named Scottsdale Inc., Peoria Inc., Miami Inc., Rochester Inc., San Jose Inc., etc.
It’s simply a matter of time – thanks to the actions taken this year by five justices on the Supreme Court.