Marty Meehan is a democratic US Congressman representing the fighting 5th District in Massachusetts. He has represented his district since 1993, and ran unopposed in the 2006 general election.
Yesterday, the Politico reported Mr. Meehan is stepping down as congressman to become the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Well, good for Mr. Meehan; this sounds like an excellent opportunity for him. And by most accounts, Mr. Meehan is regarded as a pretty darn good politician.
However, this happy little story has a side to it that appalls me to the core. It seems that Mr. Meehan has the tidy little sum of $5.2 million in his campaign finance account. Remember, this is a guy who ran unopposed in the last election.
Now, he can't spend the money on himself. But $5.2 million is a LOT of dosh. Apparently he has three choices. He can:
- Give the money to charity
- Save the money for some future run for political office
- Give the money to the democratic party committee
Okay, I just got done throwing up in my mouth, because I'm about 1,000% sure Mr. Meehan won't be donating the money to charity. The amount of money Mr. Meehan has raised is nothing short of obscene. Its not as if, the reeps put forward some charismatic and talented politician to challenge Meehan from one end of his district to the other. Mr. Meehan ran un-freaking-opposed. Why does Mr. Meehan have so much money?
The answer lies perversely in lap of the Supreme Court, which has ruled fairly consistently that money equals political speech. The perversion is Meehan's donars get to fully exercise their free speech by showering the congressman with carts full of cash, but his political opponents get shut out - big time. Since rich folks and corporation and unions are willing to fork over cash to this guy, Mr. Meehan is in his rights to accept the money. (Although this "right" is a perversion, in my opinion).
The loser in this is the average American. (surprise!) You got an issue with some bigwig who wrote a six figure check to Mr. Meehan? Don't expect Mr. Meehan's staff to be of much assistance on that matter.
Sure, you have free speech rights. You can email or call the congressman. But, you sure do NOT have the bullhorn or the bully pulpit. That's too bad, you can't afford it. Your speech isn't as valuable as Mr. Meehan's campaign donars.
I can't say that I have the comprehensive answer to this problem, but I do know I strongly favor taxpayer funded elections. Arizona's plan seems to work quite well. I will have to research that and post on it in the future. In the meantime, I invite your readers to post your opinions on campaign cash.