Campaign Finance 101

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Dear Friends, I think that it’s important that you understand how political contributions work and how the candidates can become multi-millionaires in one election cycle (if they’re running for the right office). I’m not talking about money laundering or anything illegal, just the basics. Let’s call it campaign finance 101.
When I left my job at the Orange Country District Attorney’s Office, I was offered a job as a “campaign advisor” by a local firm that does that. They offered twice what I made in my former employment to start, plus a car and a massive expense account. The politicians would pay me to keep them out of jail and to aid in their election/re-election bids. I didn’t take the job.


You are an office holder, a state senator or maybe even a US Congressman. You have a campaign fund that people put money into. When you leave office, that money is yours to keep. So in addition to your princely government retirement,  you should have a ton of cash in the campaign fund that transfers tax-free.  Your predecessors wrote laws to protect your class, and since most of your class is made up of attorneys, the ethical constraints on you are only bounded by the fine details of the law.

You’re in office now, and more’s the pity, you can’t spend your campaign funds except on matters defined by law. Since the public does scrutinize that law, you’re stuck with it. BUT you wish to take your mistress on a vacation without your wife knowing. How do you skim money from your campaign fund LEGALLY and pay for the lavish trip down the Rhine, or take the Concorde to London for a visit to a “sister city”?

You and your political buddies go to the United Crippled Negro Child Outreach Fund [a 501 (c) (3) corporation] and they arrange a $10,000 a plate dinner ‘for the children’. As a politician, you can spend campaign funds for charitable purposes. So there are ten of you who meet somewhere nice and you each hand the fund manager a check for $10K. All ten of you have a nice lunch and then at the end of the lunch, the door prizes are announced. LSP wins the all expenses paid for trip for two to Bermuda, Fredd wins the trip for two to Bora Bora (a sister-city), Adrienne has a trip to Rome to visit the Pope and so forth. Maybe it’s just luck, but each politician gets the door prize that their heart desired. $1,000 from each participant goes to the Crippled Negro Children who end up realizing somewhere around $300 from the entire pot once salaries and expenses are met. Everything is legal, everyone is happy.

You see, it’s not just the significant retirement benefits that politicians realize from changing the zoning from R-1 to C-1. They can manipulate that campaign fund within the law. 

11 thoughts on “Campaign Finance 101

  1. Too cool. Once you needed to be a lawyer, and a partner in a law firm. Then your law firm could receive retainers.

  2. Yep, we 'caught' one doing that in 1987 in Italy… Filed a fraud, waste and abuse claim. All it got us was our hands slapped and told to shut up. But 'somebody' sent the pics to the senator's wife! :-)

  3. So, you're telling me my tickets to Bora Bora are….(gasp) …DIRTY??!!!???

    When do we board that 747? I suppose I should pack lightly.

  4. I think I might scare him but I'll take a private lear jet to Bora Bora replete with slaves carrying margarita's. Thanks :)

  5. …No doubt you'll want your Aston Martin waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.

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