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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
5 Apr 2014
If Only One of Them Had Ever Run for Sheriff

In his 1972 epic on the origins of the U.S. war in Vietnam, the great journalist David Halberstam told of then-… Read More.

29 Mar 2014
The Spring of Shrinking Hopes

Joseph Napolitan, who essentially created the profession of campaign consultant and who departed these … Read More.

22 Mar 2014
Mr. Chairman, RIP

In the two presidential elections, immediately preceding Bob Strauss's becoming the national chairman of the … Read More.

If Hypocrisy Were a Felony


To be fair, most Republicans have never hidden their distaste for campaign-finance laws that place limits on how much someone can give to a political candidate or campaign, or how much the candidate or the campaign can spend. The reform most consistently championed by Republicans and conservative editorial pages has instead been support for complete and timely disclosure of all campaign contributions and spending.

And the GOP made a pretty good case in favor of transparency. The 1996 party platform called for "true reform" to be defined as "requiring full and immediate disclosure of all contributions." Invoking that year's nominee, the 2000 platform spoke of "Governor (George W.) Bush's agenda for more honest and open politics" that would "require full and timely disclosure on the Internet of all campaign contributions so that the media and the public can immediately know who is giving how much to whom."

The editorial page of The Wall Street Journal has long advocated a trade-off of "disclosing political contributions as part of a larger deregulation that allowed any American to give as much as he wants to any candidate." Proving he is no Johnny-come-lately to the reform cause, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in a home-state paper in 1997, "Public disclosure of campaign contributions and spending should be expedited so voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate."

That's it: the voters. The ordinary citizens who are now sentenced by Supreme Court decisions to watch helplessly (fewer than a half of 1 percent of the nation's adults make political contributions of $200 or more) as anonymous oligarchs and unidentified corporations reach into their deep pockets and seek to buy more national elections. Our fundamental American sense of fair play demands that voters be able to "immediately know who is giving how much to whom."

In making their decisions, voters need to know who is bankrolling the candidates for Congress as well as who is underwriting the TV commercials attacking their home-state senators.

In 2012, the President Barack Obama-affiliated Priorities USA Action, with no requirement to reveal its donors, raised and spent $65 million — all of it in attack ads against Mitt Romney. Shed no tears for Mitt. The Romney-affiliated Restore Our Future collected $142 million (from Lord knows whom, but no American civilians) and spent approximately 85 percent of it attacking the opposition.

Freer and fuller access to information might have helped avoid the Wall Street financial crisis. It would certainly have put the chill on insider trading and it can only help Americans make more-informed decisions about to whom and to what the candidate who seeks their precious votes could be beholden.

But wait, conservative support for full disclosure has disappeared. Just last week, The Wall Street Journal went looking and miraculously found "another reason to rethink our views on campaign-finance disclosure laws." Comparing the call — which The Journal had long endorsed — to make public the contributions of billionaires, such as those of the Koch brothers and George Soros, to "how Southern racists tried to subpoena NAACP membership lists for intimidation purposes in the Jim Crow era" qualifies as a new high, or low, in the rewriting of history.

The new, unimproved Republican position on campaign-finance disclosure is, "Never heard of it." Gone without a trace from the party platform. Bluntly put, it's the 1 percent's country, and whoever in the 1 percent wants to write a check to, anonymously, destroy an unfriendly incumbent or elect an accommodating challenger, it's nobody's business except the purchaser and the purchased. If hypocrisy were a felony, on the issue of campaign-finance disclosure alone, the GOP would be doing hard time.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at




6 Comments | Post Comment
To be fair, most Democrats have never hidden their taste for campaign-finance laws that place no limits on how much a private or public sector union can give to a political candidate or, or how much the candidate or the campaign can spend.

If hypocrisy were a felony, on the issue of campaign-finance disclosure alone, the Democrats would be doing hard time.

I know you want to be fair, right?

Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:53 AM
Re: Tom;... Dear Tom; consider how much justice you could afford if you were robbed; because that is exactly the position unions find themselves in, of never being able to buy back what has already been taken from them... You can't dig yourself out of a hole, and neither can the unions, and if it comes to getting what the Constitution clearly set as goals, with one being a more perfect union, you should not have to pay for the promises of politicians when you have paid for action with taxes...
When the government does not represent the working people and their rights, you need unions, but every effective method of the unions has been taken by the court as against property rights... Now, property has been handed a basic right to influence government, and this while the vast majority, left and right agree that government is not working for them... Sir;... Equity is more essential and basic a right to democracy than the rights of property to influence the course of government... Property has always had that privilage; and where has it got us???Unequal rights do not ever result in a more equal society... We began this nation with small distance between rich and poor, but we are ending it with extremely huge differences, and it is not because the rich are more worthy, honorable, intelligent... They take advantage of a privilage that gives them an advantage, but this results in a society less responsive to the poor, and less democratic...It might be argued that there is little difference between the democrats and republicans, and clearly their denial of choice to the people has been a great factor the rise of the super rich... The worst thing that can be said for the democrats is that they give democracy a bad name, because when people think they are appealing to the poor and for the poor that they are appealing for poverty... Poverty never grew less poor by the support of it, but only more general...If you expect unions to act differently you run thr risk of them becoming revolutionary... If you expect the democrats to behave differently you will have to take all the money out of politics, and this the democrats will never do... The money in politics makes all people corrupt, but it only makes a few rich...And that is the whole idea of it...We could easily argue that wealth never became more general with the support of it, but more concentrated because greater wealth has greater privilage...
In spite of the money in politics we only need one thing to happen to own our government... If the members of the house were set in ratio equal to that percentage we began this country with, we would be fine... We have the present fixed number of representatives because the parties wanted it so to make the house manageable, and the Surpreme Court said they could make their own rules...If we had the correct ratio of representatives, no amount of money could buy an election against the will of the people...What are the chances short of revolution that we will have this situation again???
Comment: #2
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:12 PM
Re: Tom;... Why when confronted with a vast and long term unfairness would anyone want to be fair??? You cannot get ahead by getting even, but if we do not get even at some point we will see this country die with a whole mess of rich folks looking like maggots on a dung heap... Why would we want to be fair beyond the point of being honest...To get to zero at this point we have go far beyond fair...
Speaking of unions; I once had a business agent who said there are only two types of people in this world: ers and ees, and no one wants to be an ee; and I have done all I can in life to survive without becoming an er, but we have many people in all honesty who in following their religion and their politics become ees because they like it, and expect what they suffer they can kick down hill...The people on the bottom have had all they can take of being ees, and all those suckies who never stand up to the boss, who want to blame the poor and push all their pain and frustration down on others less able to take it and make it have lost the cooperative aspect of society... The poor can't carry themselves let alone carry the rich and the middle... If the middle wants to carry the rich, then be men about it, or rather the slaves you choose to be without cutting the poor out of their share of the commonwealth...
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:24 PM
Yeah, stupid. A lot of your rich folks looking like maggots on a dung heap are union bosses. Workers of the world united to the benefit of these rich cats:

Union: National Education Association

Membership: 3.2 million
Assets: $216 million
The NEA, representing most of the nation's teachers, has 31 headquarters officers and employees who earn over $200,000. The president, Dennis Van Roekel, received $397,721 in salary and benefits.

Union: Service Employees International Union
Membership: 1.8 million
Assets: $187 million

The union has nine headquarters officers and employees who earn over $200,000. The former president, Andy Stern, was paid $306,388 in salary and benefits from the union in 2009.
Union: United Food & Commercial Workers

Membership: 1.3 million

Assets: $157 million

The UFCW, whose members work in meatpacking, food processing and retail grocery stores, has 17 headquarters officers and employees who earn over $200,000. The president, Joseph T. Hansen, received $360,737 in pay and benefits in 2009. Of the $1.9 million the union donated to political candidates over the past two years, 99 percent of it went to Democrats. The union drew criticism from members in 2004 for paying outgoing president Douglas Dority $709,000 in salary and benefits and for keeping retired officers on the payroll with six-figure salaries. At the time, more than 250 UFCW employees across the country were being paid more than $100,000.

Union: International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Membership: 1.3 million
Assets: $175 million

The Teamsters, whose origins date to the horse- and mule-team drivers of the late 1800s, represents truck drivers and a wide array of blue-collar and government workers. Eight headquarters officers and employees received more than $200,000 in 2009.

The president, James P. Hoffa, was paid $362,869 in pay and benefits.

Union: American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees
Membership: 1.5 million
Assets: $97 million

AFSCME, one of the fastest growing unions in the United States, was founded in Wisconsin almost 80 years ago. At union headquarters in Washington, 10 officers and employees receive more than $200,000 a year. Gerald McEntee, who was first elected union president in 1981, was paid $479,328 in salary and benefits in 2009. Over the past decade, his salary has increased at almost 4 percent a year.

Union: Laborers' International Union of North America
Membership: 633,000
Assets: $134 million

The Laborers represent mostly construction workers in 500 locals in the U.S. The headquarters in Washington has 18 officers and employees who earn more than $200,000 a year, including 11 who earn more than $300,000. Terence O'Sullivan, union president since 2000, received $618,000 in salary and benefits in 2009.

Union: American Federation of Teachers
Membership: 887,000
Assets: $115 million

AFT is the smaller of the two teacher unions and also represents school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, health care professionals and state and municipal employees. At AFT's headquarters in Washington, nine officers and employees earn more than $200,000 a year. Randi Weingarten, who was elected president in 2008, received $428,284 in salary and benefits.

Union: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Membership: 685,000
Assets: $482 million

IBEW represents electricians, linemen and other public utility employees, along with some computer, telecommunications and broadcasting workers. Sixteen of the IBEW's officers and employees in Washington earned more than $200,000 in 2009. Edwin D. Hill, the union president since 2001, received $375,767 in pay and benefits.

Union: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Membership: 613,000
Assets: $147 million

At the union's Maryland headquarters near Washington, 34 officers and employees earn over $200,000 in salary and benefits. Robert Buffenbarger, who became president in 1997, received $284,975.

Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:10 PM
Re: Tom; God thou art a bone head... Yes; unions do control assets, mostly pensions which are nearly one hundred percent invested in capitalism... There are many things wrong with unions, but my union was far more democratic than all the governments I have ever known in this country... And because they are not revolutionary, they are the perfect patseys for wall street scammers...
I get a pension... The money there should be plenty, for me, but when the bubble busted they lost between a third and a half of our invested money...If any of their trusties had read a fraction of Marx they would not have had near the trust in capitalism or in wall street... These trusties are often corrupt, and usually stupid... If they lay out by the pool with a hangover and have some one else sign them into the seminars they are paid to attend to learn a little about investing, then they can claim stupidity, but the problem is corruption...In any event, before I retired I learned that 60% of the money invested in the US economy was union money, and it is like any ira some one may have except that it might sit for 30 years or more, pooled and invested, and after a while it adds up, except when everyone is robbed...But don't worry; the true outlaws got away...
Have you checked your churches assets... Most of them have heard about Noah, but they still save for a rainy day... And they are corporations too... What a coincidence... It is so appropriate to have roman burial societies digging our graves... Do you get the corpse in corp-oration???
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:56 PM
When rich people use the political process to make their lives better, that's just the way things work. When people who aren't rich do so, they're looking for a handout.
Comment: #6
Posted by: steveM
Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:45 AM
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