The color of money

Column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

On the one side is a candidate who is not taking PAC and lobbyist contributions. On the other side is a candidate who is taking contributions from PACs and lobbyists, and an awful lot of it.

I don’t know that there’s anything here that can serve as a reason to vote for one guy or the other, but it doesn’t hurt us to look into it some more, does it?

Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte has raised $383,052 from PACs in the 2008 election cycle, according to the investigative website opensecrets.org. The single-biggest industry donating to the Republican’s cause is agribusiness, which is not all that surprising, given Goodlatte’s status as the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, and a former Ag Committee chair until the Democratic Party takeover in 2007.

Agribusiness PACs have contributed $162,800 to the Goodlatte campaign so far this year, according to opensecrets.org.

Scrolling down the list of contributors, we find a pocket of support from the dotcom world, with the likes of Amazon.com and eBay and GoDaddy.com part of a $34,400 dotcom PAC haul this year, and another $16,500 pocket from the TV and movie world, including donations from the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Time Warner.

The NRA is on the list; as is a key player in the development of the controversial NAFTA, Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates. The National Auto Dealers Association, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the New York Mercantile Exchange, Allstate, Nationwide, Northrop Grumman, Norfolk Southern, CSX …

PAC and lobbyist monies account for 43.3 percent of the $884,031 that Goodlatte has raised for his campaign in the ’08 cycle, according to opensecrets.org.

Like I said above, that’s an awful lot. Now, and I want to be clear on this, I’m not suggesting that Goodlatte is any different than any other entrenched member of Congress in this respect. PACs and lobbyists have an agenda, and they have money, and they know how to use it to get things to work out to their advantage. I don’t know why people like Bob Goodlatte have to take the money and run, but there’s nothing inherently wrong or necessarily unethical about them doing so.

I just wonder how much they’re thinking about the folks back home when they’re up there on the floor and in committee.

Again, I don’t know that this is a voting issue, at least not one of primary order. But it does seem to me that there’s something to this that ought to get our attention up.

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