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Friday, January 9, 2009

Wyden: 20 grand from Bernie Madoff

It's the whole New York thing, no doubt.

Comments (16)

And $21,200 from Pacific Crest Securities. What's your point? Are you trying to suggest that Wyden knew he was getting dirty money from Made-off, or that he should have suspected it even though others did not?

He's just saying Wyden is for sale as much as any other Senator from New York (er, Oregon) probably is.

That's $20k per election cycle. And it goes back a ways. The O only had him down for $32k total. What's the real number? And over how many years? Madoff never gave to Smith. Why?

And what did the money get Madoff? Was Mrs. Wyden invested with Madoff? And if so, for how much? It wasn't exactly a secret among the connected, and Mrs. Wyden is certainly that, that what Madoff was doing wasn't on the up and up.

I presume The O still has at least one political reporter who could find this information out. Although Nigel is probably better equipped to handle this one.

I ask again: Since you are against public funding of elections, what's the point of complaining about politicians who accept donations from people who turn out to be slimeballs?

Should candidates be paying to run deep background checks on all donors?

What's with the Banfield Pet Hospital second highest contribution of $35,000? Is it a pound for gathering money for Wyden and hiding the contributors? Looks fishy. Now I know why my cat's shot cost $79.90 with the serum costing them only $1.80.

That's $20k per election cycle...

I'm not so sure about that, Chris. If you use the pulldown menu to access the top contributors to Wyden over his "career," Madoff doesn't make the list, which includes the top 20 and ends with Wilshire Financial Services Group at $35,90.

Maybe Willy Week could check into the Banfield Pet Hospital? I mean do a story!

Madoff also contributed $2,300 to Merkley last April, while he was only a candidate for office, and $250 to Darlene Hooley in 2004. He's made large ($25,000) annual contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last few years but has also given money to individual Republican candidates. Over the years, he has also given money to Obama, Chris Dodd, Richard Gephardt and others. I haven't a clue why he has given so much money to Wyden. None of Wyden's committee assignments appear to make him valuable to someone like Madoff. Maybe there is a family connection or friendship.

"Since you are against public funding of elections, what's the point of complaining about politicians who accept donations from people who turn out to be slimeballs?"

You set up a false dilemma. I'd like to believe it is possible to get legitimate donations without govt aid.

I kind of like Obama's notion of getting 100,000 $5 contributions as opposed to Hilary's (and probably most senators now) 5 $100,000 contributions.

I wonder whether Bernie swiped any of Mrs. Wyden's money (or her father's).

@ Steve: No, it's not a false dilemma at all. I bet you dollars against VooDoo Donuts that every politician in America would be ecstatic if they were able to raise the kind of coin Obama did in small sums. Obama is, so far, one of a kind for raising big bucks from small donors, AND it's not as if he didn't have lots of heavy hitters dropping in heavy sums.

Absent low dollar limitations of the kind the Supreme Court has rejected then, if we don't do public financing, we're telling candidates that they have to raise the money to run any way they can. No money = no campaign.

Personally, I think we should give every American of voting age (1) universal voting registration; and (2) $200 per year tax credit/rebate for qualified political contributions tax credit (even for EZ filers and non-wage earners); and (3) define "qualified political contributions" as those going to candidates who agree to accept no more than $200 from any individual. So if candidates want to raise money in small bills from lots of people, the money's there; if they want to take big coin from big hitters under a "money is speech" argument, fine, but then those heavy hitters fund the campaign entirely (because your smaller donors won't be getting their contributions back on their taxes).

It's a public funding plan without a public funding bureaucracy.

who knew? He was the pillar of the community back then.

"It's a public funding plan without a public funding bureaucracy."

OK, but you didn't answer your original question, which I will do - Yes it is possible to get legitimate contributions for political campaigns without allowing slimeballs to control it. Politicians just have to want it.

Every time we fix a problem with a new law we find new ways to break the law.

@ Steve: But the system we should have is not the system we have --- we have the system that makes politicians beg for money from day 1 on the job if they want to stay in the job ...

And I wouldn't be so quick to slam "the politicians" for not fixing this problem --- it's primarily the rich who hate public financing (who don't want the goods taken off the market) and people of lesser means who get distracted with faux-populist anti-public-financing arguments about "welfare for politicians" and other nonsense like that, like the kind of digs against the idea that are tossed around on this site a lot.

Coke and Exxon would never let Pepsi and Shell select the candidates who could run for their boards (or vice versa).

But that's precisely what Americans do with elections: by failing to provide public funding for campaigns, we make candidates undergo a "wealth primary" where the people with lots of money -- the .01% who donate more than $200 in any election cycle -- pretty much determine who will even try to make the race, thus determining who will appear on the slots on the ballot. In other words, we demand that politicians establish a symbiotic relationship with precisely the power centers that we most need government's power to check. It's crazy, but that's what we do.

"makes politicians beg for money from day 1 on the job"

Puh-leeeze, when I see people spending upwards of $500K to win an Oregon legislature seat (a $20K/yr gig) I am really hard-pressed to believe they have to beg that hard. Plus I don't see how throwing $200K at city council races has given us any better grade politician. Most of city council is beholden to the same developer/planner types as they always have been.

You should invent another theory to impress yourself with.

BTW - I am not rich and I hate public financing of elections. If they had the guts to put it up for a vote, I think the general public would agree with me.

@ Steve: It appears that what you hate is fair public financing that's above board and out in the open. Because, without it, you still have public financing -- you get the selective public financing first and the payback comes after the election.

In Portland, "Most of city council" was not elected with public financing, so it should not be a surprise that most of them find a lot of merit in the views of the people whose money enabled them to get elected.

Also, the amount of money needed to win a race for any power job, like the legislative ones, has little or nothing to do with the salary. The amount of money needed is determined by the size of the electorate and the nature of the race, in this case zero-sum, winner-take-all, the most expensive form of contest. Also, the stakes are not the salary of the offices, it's control of the machinery of state policy making. That's worth a lot to the people who have the scratch to invest.

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