Why voters need to reject slush fund politics
May 31, 2010
All over America, voters are rejecting the lies and half-truths of politicians. They are rejecting “business-as-usual” politics, secret political agendas, and the influence of Big Money on our elections. They are demanding greater transparency and accountability from public officials. They rightly believe that America’s legislative chambers are controlled by special interests–-be they Big Business or Big Labor or any number of others–which demand favors in return for campaign contributions. They truly believe America’s political leaders are up for auction to the highest bidder.
This corruption of our political system is being played out right here in the 33rd Assembly District, although the local media tries to ignore it.
One candidate has received over $86,000 in funding from a dummy political committee (which until a few days ago was not even registered with the California Secretary of State!) established primarily for the purpose of evading campaign contribution limits ( limiting contributions to Assembly candidates to $3,900 per person ) and pumping tens of thousands of dollars into his campaign indirectly to pay for slick television ads.
The group in question calls itself the “California Taxpayers Advocate” and the candidate involved is 33rd Assembly District candidate Katcho Achadjian. There is no information on the Internet about “California Taxpayers Advocate.” Nor does this “organization” have a website. Its address is a UPS Store in San Diego. Its media buyer is an ex-California State Senator.
Sound fishy? Certainly.
By law, committees such as this must legally file paperwork with the Secretary of State when they spend money in support of or in opposition to a political candidate. This is the only way we can determine who is paying for “California Taxpayers Advocate.” The most recent filing deadline was May 27 and this is what we find:
Among the contributions to this group is $31,000 from the California Dental Association PAC, $25,000 from the California Medical Association PAC, $10,000 from PG&E, $15,000 from the California Building Industry Association, and $20,000 from the giant grocery chain, Food4Less.
Why exactly do these special interests want to elect Katcho to the Assembly? Why do Big Medicine, Big Utilities, Big Developers, and Big Grocers need Katcho in the Assembly? Why do they need to be funneling tens of thousands of dollars into his campaign through surreptitious means? Sure, it may be legal (if everything is properly reported), but that isn’t the point.
Do Big Business interests, public employee unions, and other entities — which spend millions of dollars every year lobbying our legislators–make large political contributions simply out of charity or because they have nothing better to do with their money?
Of course not. They are buying access. They are seeking special consideration. Frankly, they are buying votes. It has not been unprecedented to hear of legislators who actually skimmed through their contributor lists to determine which visitors to their hallowed offices they would choose to meet with. This is simply wrong and it is unethical. Our legislators are elected to represent the voters of their districts, not PG&E, the CMA, or Food4Less.
Katcho Achadjian has been a county Supervisor for a decade. He is an expert politician and the master of the kind of closed-door, back-room deal-making that the people are increasingly fed up with. In this campaign, he had an opportunity to break with his long-standing image as a political wheeler-dealer and opt instead for a fully transparent campaign. He has chosen not to do do so and the voters of the 33rd Assembly District are undoubtedly the losers.
Matt Kokkonen is a candidate for the Republican state Assembly nomination in the June 8th primary.