Let’s hear it for Illinois!
Incoming Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner campaigned as a reformer of the state’s often corrupt politics – but, watchdog groups say activities surrounding his inauguration Monday are among the priciest of any incoming governor and take advantage of a loophole in campaign finance that allows wealthy special interests to gain access to those who hold political power…
Rauner, a Republican, is allowing corporate donors to kick in as much as $100,000 for inauguration events, and letting individuals spend up to $25,000.
It’s only about $10 million among friends. Who cares what that money could have meant to schoolkids or the unemployed? Certainly, not the governor or his buddies.
He is hardly alone. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, will accept up to $50,000 per donor. Corporate sponsorship packages for inaugural events by Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, both Republicans, cost $30,000 and $25,000 respectively…
The price tag for gubernatorial inaugurations is dwarfed by presidential celebrations. President Barack Obama did not allow corporate donors for his first inauguration, though just 211 individuals covered 80 percent of the $35.3 million price tag. For his second inauguration, Obama accepted unlimited corporate donations.
Inauguration events are essentially private parties that are considered non-partisan and are funded by special committees. Under federal and state campaign laws, the inauguration committees are not required to disclose spending or donor names because the inauguration exists outside the election process. All money raised for the events is meant to cover expenses, with surpluses typically given to charity.
In recent years, the events have transformed from honorary banquets to ticketed, star-studded concerts and lavish balls. Donors gain access to events and also can get their names splashed in programs and across other marketing materials.
The process has created the perception that these are veiled opportunities for lobbyists and other corporate interests to curry favor with lawmakers…
What “created the perception” means, of course, is these are public displays of who actually holds the power of the state in their hands.
According to the Illinois Observer, Rauner and his wife are also hosting a private “business roundtable and reception” in Chicago this month that costs $25,000 per couple for both events.
Rauner Spokesman Mike Schrimpf says donors will be disclosed but would not say when. He also would not say where any surplus money would go.
I have occasionally posted, edited and participated in blogs and websites where Class Warfare is acknowledged. I admit, some of the sites that use my work not only deny such an analysis; but, the owners vigorously oppose the concept – and the reality.
Welcome to the United States of America at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Sooner or later, I am confident that more and more reality will intrude into the befuddled lives of ordinary Americans. Economic and social practices affecting all of us can’t be denied by beer commercials and glorious patriotic music forever. We are, after all, a species capable of learning from our mistakes.
I just hope it doesn’t take as long as the discovery that the Earth is round.