Sheesh, our campaign finance system is such a cesspool.
Writing in the New Republic, Alec MacGillis seeks further explanation as to why Mitt Romney, whose 2008 presidential candidacy crashed in New Hampshire when he lost the primary to John McCain, is doing so consistently well in the polls there this year. There are probably lots of explanations, but this is probably one you hadn’t thought about:
In September 2010, Mitt Romney invited all of the Republican candidates for the New Hampshire Senate to lunch in a conference room in Concord. He thanked them for running for office, then gave each of them a $1,000 check made out to their campaigns. “He did it in a very personal manner. It wasn’t an impersonal, get-the-check-in-the-mail type of thing,” recalls Jim Rausch, one of the candidates. “I appreciated it.”
It isn’t just state Senate candidates: No New Hampshire politician, it turns out, is too insignificant to get a check from Romney. Small-town Republican committees, county sheriffs, and district attorneys have all have been recipients of his largesse. Often, the money is accompanied by personal courting. Recently, Grafton County Sheriff Douglas Dutile, who received $500 from Romney last year, hosted a lunch for the candidate and other sheriffs. “We talked about world affairs,” says Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard, who received $750 from Romney in 2006 and another $500 last year. “Governor Romney liked the beans that Sheriff Dutile’s wife made and went back for more.”
Not surprisingly, many of those who have received money from Romney are supporting him.
Of course lots of candidates form these “leadership PACs” in advance of their own campaigns, which can collect unlimited sums from donors and use the money to bribe, I mean buy, I mean support friends’ or future friends’ campaigns in states around the country. This is totally legal. Sheesh.