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CAMPAIGN FUNDING—IT CAN DRIVE YOU NUTS!

By

William A. Gralnick


You better read this. It is being written by someone that a lot of organizations think is one of the most active and generous members of one of the nation’s two major political parties. For example, I’ve just been invited to be a member of the Florida Presidential Advisory Committee. I don’t know if I can do it because I’ve also been asked to join the Democratic National Committee Advisory Committee and the Take Back the Senate Advisory Committee.




If I join those, I don’t know if I’ll have time to do the emergency stuff. After all, I’m the only person in Palm Beach County not to have answered the question about Barack Obama being a member of the Supreme Court. It appears I’m one of only 534 voters not to have answered as to whether or not I’m sure I will vote for Joe Biden. Equally as important, for the fifth, sixth, or seventh time I have to immediately swear I have not switched parties and there are probably twice that many pleadings to oppose Trump being on the ballot or to ban Big Macs, the idea I suppose is to put him into gastric withdrawal. I’ll have to make some quick choices, but uh–stop the presses. Breaking news. MSNBC has appointed me to represent Florida in their up-and-coming poll. OMG. But the pressure keeps building. Being important is not easy.


So, you see, I’m a very popular boy. And each of these comes with a survey to fill out and a cry for money. If I don’t give, then some of the pleas come with this, “YOU PROMISED TO DONATE!” which I didn’t.


By now, you may have divined that I have a problem with political campaign funding raising. Here’s why. Let’s start with how someone like George Santos gets elected to office or Robert Menendez gets reelected. A fascinating aspect of Santos’ election is the education and income levels in his district. They are high. Yet no one saw that his resume, written and oral, was the equal in creativity to one done by The Straw Man in Alice in Wonderland or at least put together by someone related to Alice B. Toklas. As for Menendez who is charged with being as crooked as a poorly struck carpenter’s nail, we could toss it off as “oh well, that’s New Jersey for you.” After all, the infamous Jersey City major Hugh Adonezio, did a few turns behind bars for taking payoffs, some small, and some, for the day, quite large. But the things Menendez has been indicted for, both together with and separately from his wife who herself has her own nifty set of indictments, puts in bold 20-point type the phrase Grand Theft. And no one since Georgia’s own Senator Herman Talmadge was as dumb or feeling invincible as Menendez. Talmadge for those of you too young to remember, Georgia’s senior senator, bought raw land where he knew highway interchanges would be built and then hi-jacked the county, state, or Uncle Sam with sales costs. A lot of what this sower reaped was kept in the pockets of his overcoats. Truth. But I digress.


I don’t know what makes me more cynical getting a “Dear Bill” letter from Nancy Pelosi or yet another that says she’d like to meet me personally. Then there’s this:


“Hi bill (sic) — Christie here, Executive Director of the DSCC. When I looked through our past survey responses, I was very impressed with your level of enthusiasm. In fact, you were more active than 90 percent of Democrats in our database!


We defied history and expanded our Senate majority because we partnered with folks like you. Now, we NEED your help to do it again.


We’re launching a high-priority focus group that’s ONLY open to Democrats who’ve proven their commitment to winning — and you’re in the top 10% of Democrats who made the cut. So please, bill, accept your invitation by taking this survey right away.” (ed note: If I am more active than 90% of Democrats in their database, the Democrats are doomed.) But as I considered the survey, I realized…


Oh gosh, I can’t accept the invitation because there arrived another stop the press announcement:


“Congratulations!


“You’ve been specifically selected to participate in our 2024 14th Amendment Survey because you have been identified as our strongest Democrat in 33433! We have only selected [50] Democrats from Florida total, so your response is critical to ensuring our data is accurate and up to date”


Democratic Strategy Institute


“Joe Biden’s reelection is less than a year away so it’s critical to get feedback from grassroots Democrats like you.


We’re only asking the top 3% of Democrats in Florida to participate, and congratulations, william (sic)– you qualified!


Some of these questions will be easy, and some will require you to think. (ed note: OMG, not that. Imagine. I’ll have to think.)


But we need your honest feedback to inform our strategy recommendations and shape the rest of Joe Biden’s presidency.


Our strategists will review your response tomorrow at 10 AM, so please complete your focus group before then:


Oh dear, I better hurry. But, wait a minute, I have to find my credit card and take care of this first. Donald Trump has just offered me a green MAGA hat before anyone else gets them and also a black metal credit card look-alike that has his picture and signature on it—wow! Each week since, I’ve been offered a collection to include as companions to the black one, a card in silver, a card in platinum, and a card in gold.


And no, I’m not going into Donald Trump’s playground and playmates. Let’s just stick to a few candidates trying to figure out not what they say or why they say it, but how we believe it. Here’s a starter that doesn’t even have a candidate. The ad features a full family of farmers and their cows. We’re told someone is keeping the growing world of technology out of farming and will keep American farming from being competitive. It’s about as apple pie, Chevrolet and Dinah Shore as can be. Or is it?


It turns out the money for these ads comes from Big Tech. Its goal is to seed in our minds the need for agricultural technology so they can announce “new techniques” and jump into the money pit. Their other donations then go to candidates who, knowingly or unknowingly, agree with them.


Here’s a cute one. A tax preparation firm puffs out its chest with pride telling you how cheaply, even maybe free, they can do your taxes. Then they support candidates who are willing to make the tax code even more difficult to handle so more taxpayers are driven to seek help. Surprise. That help suddenly isn’t so cheap.


I have a sweet tooth. Given where I live, I can ride through the cane fields that make Florida the largest cane producer in the nation. US Sugar in Belle Glade, Florida is the largest producer in the nation producing over 700,000 tonnes a year. That crown, however, comes with some thorns. Here are three: air pollution, ground pollution, and water pollution. According to a Palm Beach Post editorial: “The sugar cane industry continues to argue against the obvious, contending its open-burning, a harvesting method to rid the stalks of outer leaves, causes no ill-effects.”


Industry spokespeople say the burns make harvesting and replanting more efficient, bolstering the economy and helping support as many as 12,000 jobs, in a region otherwise bereft of industry and employment, while generating more than half the nation’s cane sugar.


As today’s front-page article by Palm Beach Post reporter Hannah Morse demonstrates, the industry makes that argument not just with words. Campaign contributions flood small-town races in the Glades and state-level races where legislators sweeten bills in Big Sugar’s favor, bills that make it difficult, for example, for anyone to sue the companies over alleged health impacts of cane burning.


In the sugar industry, and agriculture in general, the wages are low, and the housing, if available is high. The owners and operators live in lovely homes. The workers are rarely able to get out of their three-town area and travel the 45+ – miles to West Palm, Lake Worth, or Boynton Beach where goods and services would be cheaper. The “Glades,” as the three towns are known (Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay) advertise themselves as a trip back in time to see Florida as it was. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing.


Former County Commissioner for the Glades area Melissa McKinley says 40% of the population is below the poverty level, most of the housing is old and built before 1979, plus a base of residents are seasonal who work in the fields every year.


“The problem that I have here is if we shut something down, we’re limited in where we can place somebody temporarily until we can find a new living situation for them,” McKinley said.

People go to the Glades area to camp and fish on Lake Okeechobee and sometimes to run drugs. The first two are well out of range of the average resident, at least the way the upper class does it. One thing US Sugar supports well is the army of lobbyists to meet politicians either in the fancy restaurants of Tallahassee or the local Burger King back home. Yes, old Florida.


And charges of corruption abound. From actual bank fraud guilty pleas and convictions to arguments over housing and health standards, to the sugar industry’s motives concerning who and what they help and why. From this reporter’s perspective, where there’s smoke… The higher up the protestations, the more suspicious one should be of them.


An old adage warns us that people will sink as low as they are allowed to. Politicians are people. To keep politics clean every one of us has to have a broom and be willing to use it.


ATTN: The third book in Bill’s trilogy, That’s Why They Call It Work” is now available with on Amazon or at Willliamgralnickauthor.com

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