Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Too long gone, plus dirty politics!

I'm realizing that I'm letting too much time lapse between these posts again -- it's a function of being ridiculously busy.

We're running down the stretch of missions month here, which means services Sunday-Wednesday this week and next week. And I'm doing an insane amount of work for the newspaper for a "part-time" employee.

Speaking of which, I put in another 21 hour day Monday. Yuck. From 9 AM to 6:15 the next morning, with something like 15-20 minutes supper break at home. That has got to stop. I don't know how my editor does it (and frankly, I don't know how long he's able to keep it up). He rarely sleeps at all on Monday, just works straight through from Monday morning until Tuesday afternoon. They ain't payin' us enough for that.

This week, the big thing was a political corruption kind of piece on the state level. It's new ground for our paper, kind of -- we've been basically a county-level newspaper up to this point. But with the political state of the state, someone tipped me to an interesting fact about one of our state reps' campaign finance reports. So I started digging (not just in his -- I looked at a few, both to check them out and to get a sense of perspective).

You know, someone, a dyed in the wool local Democrat, basically told me the other day my paper is trying to vilify the Democratic state representative from this county, Thomas Wright, while playing the Republican woman from the other side of the county, Representative Carolyn Justice, as an angel. (There is irony here -- this paper has long been perceived as favoring the Democratic Party and the western side of the county. We are also the only paper to really give play to the explanation of why they put forward their redistricting bill.)

Now, I'm sure, in fact, positive that Justice is a shrewd political operator with her own agenda. But when I look at campaign finance (and I looked through some of both her and his records), she comes off as practically angelic next to him. And that ain't spin or favoritism -- that's fact.

Not only does Justice get practically all of her money through individual donations from her constituents (and I didn't see any really noticeable pattern, like, say, developers paying a huge chunk of money), Justice also refuses to take money from Political Action Committees. Political Action Committees are special interest groups that give money to candidates. Wright gets a huge chunk of his money from PACs. He's chairman of the House Health Committee. And he gets loads of money from doctors, nurses, medical insurance companies, etc. And sometimes those chunks of money are coming while he's actively involved in pushing legislation for them or killing legislation they want dead.

It's not illegal, since people can give money to whoever they want. And most members of the House take money from special interests. But it sure looks ethically questionable to me.

Justice seems to have a squeaky clean record of reporting contributions. Wright, on the other hand, has been repeatedly cited by the State Board of Elections for turning in incomplete or late reports. At least once, they actually pulled his right to receive and disburse money.

Then you start looking at his actual donations received, and it just gets worse. For details for now, you can just look at the first featured article in this week's edition of the Post (the link is on the right). I'll try to make a separate entry with some details (and I don't think I even covered it all in the article), since the article will only be up for a week.


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