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Blog: Campaign Hit Pieces: Does More Money Help or Hurt Democracy?

Do money and elections Mix?

My mother always told me you get more bees with honey, but I guess most campaigns managers aren’t mothers. What do you get when you add unlimited campaign contributions with elections? A hostile mailbox environment.

At the local and national level millions and billions of dollars are being spent to win your vote. Indeed, this year nearly $6 BILLION is being spent on Presidential and Congressional Elections (up from about $3 billion in 2000).

Are you seeing more than usual amount of stink bombs or hit-pieces criticizing a candidate or measure in your mailbox? Because of the 11 statewide propositions and one local measure, the campaign literature hit pieces seem to be piled as thick as a brick.

At the local level, more than $1.5 million has been raised in the 50th Assembly Race, a job that pays about $92,000/year. Both of the candidates, Betsy Butler and Richard Bloom, are democrats, and you would think that they would share many of the same values, but the mud has been thrown at both candidates. 

An advertisement paid by Bloom depicts Butler as a “disgraceful” who “failed to protect children in danger.” Another hit piece paid for by “Cooperative of American Physicians Independent Expenditure Committee” states Butler’s refusal to hold “sexually abusive teachers accountable isn’t just “sickening” and “shameful” it’s “unforgivable.”

The Democratic Party paid for another piece which states that Bloom, as a Santa Monica Council member/candidate, “traveled all over the world” (well at least 45 trips from China to Stockholm, and Prague to Paris) “for free” and “has billed local taxpayers $42,156.12 to cover expenses on junkets” making sure he “he bills taxpayers for every penny he can. When he was visiting Stockholm on a trip paid for by the energy industry, Bloom charged Santa Monica taxpayers $12.95 for Internet service.” 

Last week, I asked Bloom and Butler to comment on “hit pieces.” 

According to Bloom: “My campaign is responsible for the "just wasn't right" literature. Our literature (a single piece) is factual and points voters to a website that contains the Anderson Cooper exposé on the topic. I have been targeted by literature directly from the Butler campaign and via an IE that is principally funded by Butler's longstanding allies, the trial lawyers, who have bestowed upon themselves the nice sounding campaign name of "California Alliance, a coalition of consumer attorneys and conservationists".  

Butler, in a phone message, stated her campaign was not doing hit pieces per se, but was sending pieces that clarified Bloom’s voting record on Coastal Commission. She also stated Western Growers PAC was spending about $300,000 on hit pieces against her because they were made about a bill she supported that would have provided water and shade for farm workers, and the hit piece sent by Bloom was not accurate because regulations exist that would remove teachers accused of egregious acts.

The more money being spent in campaigns and hit pieces instead of at helping people with real problems may make many people say ENOUGH already.

Although Hurricane Sandy is beyond devastating, it perhaps will be the greatest wake up call to politicians and people about where our focus and money may be better spent - - - on those in real need.

Will politicians be rewarded or punished for hit pieces? Is our country more or less democratic with unlimited campaign spending? 

What do you think?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Susan Tellem November 04, 2012 at 02:29 AM
All I know is that my trash can is overflowing with a ton of paper political mailers - so many trees died because of these so called environmentalists. Disgusting.
Wendi Werner November 04, 2012 at 10:14 PM
When all is said and done, we will most likely see the status quo. 6 Billion dollars wasted and all of us stuck in the middle.
Pamela Conley Ulich November 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
The results are in. 238. Richard Bloom garnered 238 more votes than Betsey Butler.

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