Editorial: Answering back home got tougher

Apr. 03, 2014 @ 11:42 PM

Government gridlock will see no relief from this week’s decision by the Supreme Court to change campaign finance rules.

We’ve lamented before the partisan sway that pulls our representatives away from the middle, where solid decisions that had support on both sides were rooted. The middle is very likely to remain fairly barren.

Lawmaking bodies are no different than any other groups. Typically a small number has the greatest impact. Whether it is the General Assembly in Raleigh or Congress in Washington, political parties have major players, and they have bit players. Power is always at the top.

And just as soon as one election cycle ends for a politician, there is a brief time to breathe before campaign mode is back. That window continues to get ever shorter.

Wealthy donors with deep pockets will be the beneficiaries of this decision. According to a Center for Responsive Politics report, only 646 out of millions of donors in the 2011-2012 election cycle exceeded the $123,200 limit.

Wealthy donors back each party. Elections will be affected.

Politicians’ priorities should be to answer constituents back home. Pending how they fund campaigns, those of us back home may have lost ground with this ruling.

Donors can give $10,000 a year to an unlimited number of state party committees. Lawmakers can now solicit funds simultaneously for their campaign, their political action committee, their party and an unlimited number of other candidates, and donors won’t exceed the old limits.

Lawmakers have always been beholden to other lawmakers. They make deals and work to pass or kill bills. Three key friends might actually have the impact of 30. The cost has basically been votes and handshakes.

Money — and especially campaign money — is different. Greenbacks can change people, especially when power is involved. And many political players will now find themselves even more beholden to shades of green in party assistance. They’ll answer as much or more to the colleague who helped finance the campaign as they will to the voter.

It shouldn’t work that way. There’s a chance it won’t. We hope it doesn’t.

But we know how money talks.