Race for Senate was a deep well for campaign spending


(Bloomington) Herald-Times

The amount of money being spent on elections is obscene.

Hoosiers were exposed to this truth during the recent campaign for United States Senator. Republican Mike Braun beat incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly in a campaign in which more than $100 million was spent.

Of that money, about $78 million came from outside political groups who wanted to influence the election through primarily negative campaigns.

Television commercial after television commercial leading up to the Nov. 6 election portrayed the candidates as lying, cheating, dishonorable louts. We don’t think that’s true. It’s disheartening to think $100 million was spent to try to convince voters that it was.

What good could $100 million do if invested in programs for the underserved of Indiana?

Extrapolating what much smaller donations to United Way of Monroe County provide, $100 million spent statewide could pay for meals to be delivered to 900,000 homebound seniors for a year or to provide 10,000 apartments for people who are chronically homeless. Those are just two examples.

That’s just the amount spent on one race in one state.

Of course, those who donate to candidates and political campaigns don’t look at their expenditures in that way. They are paying to elect people they believe will support policies that are friendly to their interests. To the donors, those policies could mean millions of dollars to their particular interests over the long term rather than short-term relief to people who might be homeless or hungry.

That’s just the way things are after the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision in 2010 declared that corporations couldn’t be limited in their independent spending on elections.

While that decision won’t be reversed any time soon, it has created a deep well in which to pour money that might otherwise go to broader, more charitable reasons. And that’s too bad.

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“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” — Thomas Jefferson


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