Subscribe to the Observer Subscribe for a Friend The Observer “is the conscience of the political community” in Texas. An-. drew Kopkind in the New Republic, Nov. 20, 1965. The Observer “has a stable of gifted writers and kindred spirits who contribute to its pages.””Copies find their way to the desks of the mighty and even into the White House.”St. Louis PostDispatch, July 25, 1965. “Despite its shortcomings, the Texas Observer is needed in Texas. Texans would miss its publication . . .”Texas AFL-CIO News, Nov. 15, 1965. “Although we disagree completely . we strongly recommend the Observer as one of the best sources of state political news available.” Official Publication of the Young Republican Clubs of Texas, 1965. Send $6 for each year’s subscription to Sarah Payne, Business Manager, The Texas Observer, 504 W. 24th St., Austin, Texas. NAME ADDRESS CITY STATE .. Zip Code NAME ADDRESS CITY STATE …… Zip Code nation’s truckers are giving campaign money to Democratic and Republican members of Congress who handle transportation legislation, through the national party committees; the money is earmarked, but this doesn’t show up on the records.” Both major parties are letting business pay for their national conventions, mostly with tax-deductible contributions. This does little to reassure the rank and file members of the two major parties that they still own and control their own parties. Lately the practice has been increasing of the major parties selling advertisementsthe latest price-tag is $1,500 per page to major companies, including those that get large contracts from the government. The public are not given the careful audits of how such funds are spent to which they are entitled. The question becomes inescapable: who owns the parties when their bills are being paid in this way? It is illegal for labor unions or corporations to make campaign contributions. Voluntary contributions, including those drummed up but not any that are coerced, are entirely compatible not only with the letter, but with the spirit of the lawa point McCleskey also makes, by the way. But we have arrived at the point where the contributions of the wealthy inundate the smaller contributions from people in ordinary circumstances. In 1956, Alexander Heard has shown, 22 national-level campaign fund committees came in 74% of the cases on the Republican side, 44% on the Democratic side, in sums of $500 and more.” In 1960 the Republican proportion was perhaps slightly less; the Democratic, about the same.” But in 1964, there had been a switch, and 69% of individual contributions received by nationallevel Democratic campaigns were made in sums of $500 or more, compared to only 28% of individual Republican contributions in these large amounts.” Members of wealthy families may give, from one family, $50,000 or $100,000. A 1957 Senate report said that many officers of the nation’s biggest companies receive bonuses or liberal expense accounts intended for use in making political contributionsofficials of the DuPont Co. had given $138,000 in campaigns the year before; of the Sun Oil Co., $105,000. 18 US News and World Report made it clear, in a 1964 survey of the pay of 884 top busines executives, that such devices as bonuses wouldn’t be necessary to enable them to make substantial contributions. The median pay of the 884 ranged from $76,000 to $128,000 a year. 16 A Washington political ‘columnist wrote in the Austin daily recently that old pros contend the talk about a lot of small contributors is myth, quoting one “veteran pol” as saying: “Someone walks in, drops $25,000 in cash on the desk and tells us not to report it as his gift. So, what do we do? EUR OPE An unregimented trip stressing individual freedom. Low cost yet covers all the usual plus places other tours miss. Unless the standard tour is a “must” for you, discover this unique tour before you go to Europe. EUROPE SUMMER TOURS 255 Sequoia, Dept. JPasadena, California An Incumbent Exits Sen. Louis Crump, San Saba, has changed his mind; he won’t run for reelection. He would have had to run against Sen. J. P. Word of Meridian because of redistricting. Crump said: “I find that to continue this race would require the expenditure of funds I do not have. I cannot obligate myself for these funds, and I cannot, considering the welfare of my family, obligate my future for such enormous expenditures as appear necessary to complete this campaign.” We announce that we’ve really been getting a lot of letters with small contributions in them.’ ’17 THE PEOPLE and their politicians simply must give first priority now to thinking about the position all this puts candidates in, and the impact it is having on free politics. There was a candidate for city council in Corpus Christi last year who happened to be an operatic baritone and gave a concert to raise money for his campaign. I don’t know how many voters turned out to hear him sing “La Traviata” and “Rigoletto,” or were still willing to vote for him after they had. 18 But “it’s not .funny, McGee.” Candidates, and officeholders, are finding themselves in too many awkward situations. Consider the spread of the practice of appreciation dinners, at which people pay too much money for supper, to help a candidate along. Consider the implications of the officeholders’ $1,000 Clubs, and $100 Clubs, whose members get special access to meetings with the officeholders behind closed doors. Consider the commonplace in our politics that it’s always easier for a candidate to pay off his campaign debts, if he has won the election. Why would that be so? We can trust our good politicians to know the difference between the people and the big contributors; to keep things in proportion; but nevertheless it is not a good situation. There are, it seems to me, at least three kinds of questions about the high costs of politics. First, considering the fact that candidates are discouraged from running in advance, as well as handicapped when they do run, if they are not favored by the big contributions, to what extent is big money in politics having the decisive effect on who wins?a question that should be decided by the voters after they have had full and fair public discussion of the real issues. Second, what effects may big contributions have, or not have, on the candidates and officeholders? Former State Sen. Walter Richter said late last year, “The more campaign contributions a legislator accepts, the more his sense of objectivity is impaired.” 18 That’s a mighty flat statement. On a question about which the public man is in doubt, does he stretch a point to please his major contributors? If so, is this all right just another part of representative democracy –or should not the democracy take steps to give each citizen’s considered opinion a more nearly equal access to the representative’s attention? Third, some studies in this field have tried to sort out contributors’ reasons for giving. There are the majority, who give because they like what a candidate stands for and want him to win and do what he thinks is right in office. Those are the contributions that national policy should March 18, 1966 15
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