The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Jul 12, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Play

Wednesday, the Journal ran a story about the Albuquerque Open and Ethical Elections code (ABQ Journal - Subscription). As we told you in June, council candidate Paulette de'Pascal who is running against incumbent councilor Brad Winter, is in the midst of both a bankruptcy and a bitter divorce. (You'd think that now's not the best time to be running for public office.) The thing about the Journal story is that it glossed over the very real problem of public election financing abuse.
In the case of de'Pascal, City Attorney Bob White said her campaign money won't be tied up by the bankruptcy. He said the money was distributed to a campaign account, and her personal bankruptcy should be irrelevant.
The fact is it doesn't matter whether the money starts out being co-mingled with Ms. de'Pascal's personal finances when she controls the distribution of funds. Take a look at the list of allowable campaign expenditures created by AOEE:

1. Salary or other payment to those providing bona fide services, including
but not limited to consulting, polling, communication and advertising services to
the campaign, provided that such person is compensated at a fair market value.
2. Admissions to sporting events, concerts, theater or other forms of
entertainment for the purpose of conducting campaign activity.
3. Dues, fees, parking or gratuities at a country club, health club or other
recreational facilities where such costs are a part of a specific fundraising event.
4. Purchases of food, beverages and/or supplies used exclusively for a
campaign fund raising event, but not including alcoholic beverage.
5. Minor Cost Items Purchase of clothing or other items of de minimus
value used in the campaign. Clothing shall be a valid campaign expense only
when it has a campaign message as part of the clothing or is used as a uniform
for campaign staff and/or volunteers.
6. Campaign Materials. [See definition in Part A].
7. Compensation to Campaign Staff.
8. Communication Systems Purchase or lease of computers,
telephone systems and other related communication devices used in campaign
activities. [Section 8 (D) (1) – (6)].
9. Campaign headquarters and offices and expenditures related to such
headquarters and offices such as, security deposits, utilities, television reception,
and janitorial services.
Pay particular attention to items 1, 7, 8, and 9; salaries, staff, purchase of computers and communications equipment, and even headquarters - all are allowed. We don't know about you, but we can think of at least a half dozen ways to spend the money (generously provided by taxpayers) that are allowable but could have nothing to do with getting elected.

You may remember the stories about how some "victims" of hurricane Katrina decided to use their government issued $2,000 debit cards. Tattoos, Strippers and Louis Vuitton handbags were among the items purchased using our money (WorldNetDaily). There were criminal investigations into the abuses (ABQ Journal - Subscription) that totaled as much as $1.4 BILLION or 16% of the total amount of aid distributed to victims.

The accusations against Ms. de'Pascal include embezzlement; specifically using company money to purchase personal items and jewelry. We don't know for whether she has committed the acts that she is accused of or not. After all, divorces can be a terribly messy business where accusations of improper conduct abound.

The truth is when you give someone money, they don't always spend it in way that you would or even in a ways that you would approve of. It is impossible to govern the funds in order to make sure that they are not used in a way that was not intended. On the other hand, privately funded campaigns are self-governing.

If a candidate uses money for things like say... $400 haircuts, there's a price to pay politically AND a candidate's fundraising will certainly suffer. Certainly there's pressure to make donors happy, but that pressure is balanced by the voters who may object to the association.

Publicly financed candidates can and will find a way to "legally" spend money in ways never intended. Taxpayers will simply continue to pour money into these campaigns as long as their opponents able to raise money in more conventional ways.

The Journal made Ms. de'Pascal look like a victim by noting that "she was
granted a domestic protection order" against her estranged husband. Our Eyes tell us that the judge also entered a protection order against her. It's the judicial equivalent of "just stay the heck away from each other."

We don't know who's at fault in the Ziemann - de'Pascal divorce. Frankly we don't care. The situation simply illustrates the dangers associated with this risky public financing scheme. You can be sure that eventually a candidate will abuse the public trust, will squander our money, and it will all take place before we even have a chance to vote for them.

11 comments:

Matt Brix said...

It's important to point out that the rules for the law (which are quoted in the blog post) set forth permissible campaign expenditures, while the actual statute specifies what are not permissible campaign related expenditures. Taken together, they provide some pretty good protections against possible abuses of the public dollar.

Six candidates from all over the city recently qualified for public financing. In doing so, hundreds of voters have already had the opportunity to get involved in the process, simply by making a $5 qualifying contribution. Furthermore, now that these six candidates are through with their fundraising activities, they can spend time door knocking in their respective districts and talk face-to-face with would-be voters. These are all very positive developments.

Perhaps The Eye has some ideological opposition to clean elections. But, remember this. If a few wealthy contributors finance a campaign, they get what they pay for. If a candidate runs a clean campaign and qualifies for public financing, we the public get what we pay for-someone who represents us all. This law is not a silver bullet, but it is a vast improvement over the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Ah the old golden rule...he who has the gold, makes the rules...

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr. Brix. This blog entry is ridiculous, it is very clear that the author only seeks to make certain people look bad because of some grudge or jealousy...

Anonymous said...

Maybe when she looses the D-4 council race she can run for mayor of Rio Rancho.

Anonymous said...

Or suck mayor chavez cock and get a dept. director job.

Anonymous said...

Now there's an idea....Huuummm

Anonymous said...

Kevin Jackson just resigned. He will be replaced by someone with viable credentials. BJs don't work in Rio Rancho. Only in Albuquerque. Look at the appointed positions at City Hall and this administration. Do you think they came about those jobs because they are qualified? Nobody in the corporate world would hire them. They all walk around with knee pads.

Anonymous said...

I don't get wing-nuts like this blogger who have problems with public financing of elections.

We pay for Elections Inspectors, don't we? We do that to keep the process HONEST. Well, the REAL corruption of democracy is that our elections are BOUGHT and SOLD by an ELITE of RICH and POWERFUL forces.

Look around, Mr. Conservative: that's why we've got gridlock when it comes to tort reform -- the trial lawyers have their politicians, who keep it from happening. Same thing with spending cuts -- the special interests behind the pork make sure their guys and girls get in (want to bet how long it'd take to get rid of things like the Department of Commerce, if only the commercial interests weren't donating?).

Face it. Public financing isn't about money. It's about who runs our government.

I'd vote for Paulette de'Pasquale JUST BECAUSE she's coming in without owing some rich people.

Anonymous said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. So has Daskalos contributed to her campaign yet. She is in the real estate business. What are you talking about? "She's coming in without owing some rich people."

Anonymous said...

Almost everyone who gets into politics does so for his or her own personal gain, not to serve the public!!! Republicans and Democrats these days are all out for themselves and their parties. They are all alike, the only difference is how they go about getting our tax dollars and how they waste our money. The Constitution is just an old piece of paper in our history, not ment for these time, right?? Who would want to get into politics these days any way? There is to much dirty play and the lib. media does not help, telling the side of the stories that they want us know.
Daskalos is a bastard, poor Ben took all the heat for the Mayors friend, not his. Thanks Chief Scholtz for backing your officers again, ha. Daskalos and Chavez both need to be charged and sitting in jail for thier DUI's!

Anonymous said...

Poor Ben took all the heat....blah, blah, blah, He should take all the heat, he is the one that comitted the crime by breaking his friend out of jail.