Dear Big Daddy,
The number of legislative fund-raisers falls off dramatically after next Tuesday. What gives? I’m ready to pony up.
–Jim in Coronado
Ah, a man with money and no place to put it. This warms my cockles.
Fundraisers take a nose dive after the end of session because those special-interest bills that had been held hostage have been set free. They’ve either been killed, approved or stalled – and stalled is the same as killed. So lawmakers’ leverage vanishes in the wind, and the donors with axes to grind move on to other things, like the statewide campaigns.
Termed-out lawmakers or lawmakers who lost their primaries – and some who are both – are in no position to raise money. In fact, they’re in no position at all, although they hang around for awhile like the ghost at the feast. In the Capitol, this kind of double whammy is known as an Aanestad.
Some states have a moratorium on fundraising during the final days of the legislative session. Not in California, though, although the governor – irony or ironies! – called for a moratorium as good government measure.
Actually, money is more than the mother’s milk of politics – it’s the lubricant of politics, the WD 40 of the Capitol, the grease that keeps the bearings smooth, the oil that keeps the machinery sound. I could go on.
So it saddens me that the fundraisers taper off. It is another side-effect of term limits, that 1990 ballot initiative that cut lawmakers’ terms and ruined their pensions. The measure was crafted by pinched, envious Republicans who hated Willie Brown and saw no other way of getting rid of him as speaker except by preventing him from being re-elected.
Well, they succeeded and the government we have today in California – dysfunction and all – is directly attributed to that measure. If only people had listened to me, we’d be in much better shape today. But no.
Nobody wants to contribute to short-term lawmakers. Donors want to contribute to people who will be around for a while, who will build an empire that expands over time, who will take control of an issue and then take control of the committee that controls that issue. This is good democracy. This is how government should work.
Now we have outsiders – otherwise known as voters – from places like El Cajon and Sattley and Glendora foisting their uninformed views on the Capitol and interrupting the money flow that made California the Golden State. There’s not enough to go around for the Capitol, let alone the electorate, so I say, keep them out.