Leftists Buy an Election to Stop the Buying of Elections
It turns out that the left-wing agitators that passed the public financing of elections in Howard County knew a lot about the subjects.
As Len Lazarick reports, it turns out that supporter of Howard County Question A outspent opponents of the referendum based solely on support from left-wing advocacy groups:
Question A proponents — a coalition of good government and progressive groups outspent the organized opponents — mostly Republicans — at least 10 to 1 if in-kind support from progressive organizations is counted.
The 53%-47% victory for Question A was surprising given the positive wording of the ballot question and how weak the opposition seemed and how late a start they got, even though County Executive Allan Kittleman was against the measure….
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….Proponents raised $306,000, with $236,000 of that coming from Common Cause, the good government advocacy group. Common Cause got $45,000 of that back for consulting fees and campaign workers.
Thousands of small donations were given online by over 4,500 people in response to Common Cause, most of them out state.
Public financing advocates spent the money on at least two mass mailings to voters, media advertising and payments to groups including Maryland PIRG Citizen Lobby and Progressive Maryland for grass roots organizing.
In addition to the cash contributions, other groups contributed over $86,000 in staff time, printing and outreach to their members. This included the Democracy Initiative ($38,500), the League of Conservation Voters ($19,000), Progressive Maryland ($18,000), the Sierra Club ($4,200) and Our Revolution ($3,000).
Take note of the fact that a lot of the money was merely being funneled between leftist groups; Common Cause and Progressive Maryland got some or all of their money back, whereas other leftist groups wound up funneling money to Maryland PIRG. Ironic because Common Cause, of course, is an enemy of free speech.
As it turns out, these groups knew exactly what they were doing and why they needed to spend the money. As Lazarick notes:
Bevan-Dangel said that when the social media campaign against Question A began “we started to get a lot of questions” being raised with organizers in the field.
At that point, proponents “panicked” and Common Cause began raising money online from its members across the country.
“Social media is really changing the policy debate,” Bevan-Dangel said.
In the end, the charter amendment got 57% in early voting, with higher turnout from Democrats, and 58% among absentees, but only 49% on election day.
That means that supporters of Question A needed every penny that they spent to beat back opposition to this bill, winning primarily due to whatever organization these groups collaborated on prior to election day. If it weren’t for the $350,000 they spent, this referendum would have failed.
Of course, spending this money wasn’t about this election, it was about future elections. This was an attempt by left-wing groups to vote themselves money from the public treasury. By buying approval for Question A in Howard County, they undoubtedly will see this as a jumping off point for public financing in other counties and statewide. The goal is for these groups to then working with left-leaning candidates to pay them consulting fees, much like supporters of Question A did on this referendum. And that would mean additional taxpayer dollars would flow to these left-wing interest groups every year to continue to fund their operations and their radical agendas.
Congratulations Common Cause, Progressive Maryland, and the rest of you. You guys used your First Amendment right of free speech to work to get the government to underwrite the free speech of some and undermine it for others. They’ve decided that it’s imperative to that government will pick winners and losers as to who does and who does not qualify for public financing. But more importantly, the proved their outright hypocrisy on public financing by buying the result that they wanted in order to line their pockets with taxpayer dollars. You’ve made a mockery of the very idea that you were pitching to the voters, Heckuva job.