Campaign Finance Ridiculosity…

I hopped on the internet today to write an email to my local representative Rep. Bob Goodlatte in response to a news alert I received from the group I Love Mountains about the upcoming Clean Water Protection Act’s debate and hopeful vote.  After a bit, I had written a targeted, informed (hopefully) note to Goodlatte reminding him of greater moral responsibility that’s attached to this bill, especially given that District 9 of VA just south of us is a place that will be deeply affected by an up or down vote on this bill, assuming it isn’t amended into oblivion.

In the process of looking up the District and people within, I happened upon the website OpenSecrets.org, the web portal of the Center for Responsive Politics (another Ralph Nader-inspired organization).  The website has summary pages for present representatives that show percentages of votes missed, bills sponsored or co-sponsored, expenditures, and campaign finance.  I happened to look on the profile on newly elected Rep. Tom Perriello and found myself disgusted.  

Now, granted, I’m not disgusted at Perriello’s profile and the things Perriello seems to care about.  In fact, Perriello’s got some impressive international social justice credentials (check out his Wikipedia page). Personal piety that expresses itself in concrete actions in the world for justice should be applauded.  What disgusted me was what drove Perriello’s election over Virgil Goode, which is more of a disgust with the sytem that Goode and Perriello exist in than a disgust with Perriello himself.  I snapped a picture of it for you to look at and see what draws your eye.

Tom Perriello Open Secrets profile

If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d encourage you to see the disparity between the top contributor to Perriello’s campaign and the second-largest contributor.  Seem a little strange?  

“Now, what is ActBlue?” you might then ask.  Turns out it’s a national clearinghouse for Democratic political action and a place to raise money for specific candidates.  Now, supposedly they’re a Political Action Committee (PAC) under the law, which means that they are limited to giving “$5, 000 to any candidate committee per election, primary, general or special.”  But ActBlue gave $268,117 to Perriello.  Now how in the world is that legal/did that slip through the cracks?  I’m glad Perriello had grassroots support from multiple donors, as I am Goode, whose #1 donor was a similar conservative website counterpoint to ActBlue. 

But how in American politics is it that we continue to allow financial loopholes to drive the election of our representatives in government all the way down to the local district in our area?  This ActBlue donation is so outrageously disproportionate to me and doesn’t make sense whether legal or not.  I can only guess that they exploited some legal loophole to accomplish this massive donation.

I’m interested if someone has some way to enlighten me further.

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