Ruining the just man’s cause

New York State officials aimed to limit the extraordinary electoral influence of extraordinary wealth. People who wanted their financial powers unrestricted began legal action and, applying higher court rulings, United States District Judge Paul A. Crotty tossed the limits. He did so with obvious regret, complaining he was forced to apply a definition for corruption “no matter how misguided . . . [the Court] may think it to be.”

The Judge’s five-page opinion is worth considering, particularly now as the British Columbia government repudiates citizens calling for rules against corporate and union political donations. Insights West calculate that 86% support a ban.

Judge Crotty wrote:

In democracies, there have to be campaigns for office—and you cannot campaign without money. “Unless only the rich are to run, the money must be raised.” …money is normally contributed in the hope — indeed the expectation — that the contribution will affect the candidate’s votes or actions.

…One thing is certain: large political donations do not inspire confidence that the government in a representative democracy will do the right thing. As Justice Breyer noted… “Where enough money calls the tune, the general public will not be heard.” …In other words, he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Indeed, today’s reality is that the voices of “we the people” are too often drowned out by the few who have great resources. And when the fundraising cycle slows (it never stops), lobbyists take over in a continuing attempt to gain influence over and access to elected officials.

This is not a left or right, liberal or conservative analysis, but all the points on the political spectrum are increasingly involved in shaping this country’s political agenda. In today’s neverending cycle of campaigning and lobbying; lobbying and campaigning, elected officials know where their money is coming from and that it must keep coming if they are to stay in office.

…influence bought by money is no different than a bribe, and as the Book of Exodus 23:8 counsels, “a bribe blinds the clearsighted and is the ruin of the just man’s cause.”

Angus Reid Institute, May 10, 2016:

A new public opinion poll, self-commissioned and paid for by the Angus Reid Institute, finds people in this country strongly opposed to governing parties paying their leaders additional salaries beyond what they earn as publicly elected officials.

Canadians also voice strong support for bans on corporate and union donations to provincial political parties, similar to the restrictions that have existed at the federal level since 2004…”

angus reid



Categories: Ethics, Income Inequality, Justice

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2 replies »

  1. The judge is, sadly, right as matters stand but so is Exodus. Money has destroyed the US Constitution, the finest document of its kind ever, not by touching a single word in it. I find myself wringing my hands and, like Mr Bumble, hoping “something turns up”. It won’t as long as premiers who love the system have the enthusiastic backing of their flock and a Conflicts Commissioner who gives the presumption of innocence to the politician most inappropriatel since we’re not strictly speaking of crime but ethics.


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