Phil Richardson: Money buys face time-the transition fund

By Phil Richardson

Political campaigns are very expensive, and becoming more so on each election cycle. The cost for renting halls, giant jet aircraft, mailing brochures, outfitting boiler rooms with telephones and funding an unrelenting media campaign is something about which everyone is aware. From the moment a candidate files to run for an office, tabs are kept on just how much money has been raised from day one and how many millions candidate X and supporters spent on the candidates behalf by close of polls on election day. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the opportunities to show support for a lawmaker’s position, “build a wall” for example, and at the same time take some hefty bites out of what they would otherwise owe the Internal Revenue Service.

It has taken a year to compile the various sums required to pay the costs associated with Donald Trump’s transition from real estate tycoon to chief executive of these Disunited States. Certainly you don’t think that he and his cohort of minions simply showed up on the entrance to the White House with a cardboard box full of framed awards and family photos? Hardly. Of far more importance to the transition is the software program containing the names and amounts of contributions from lobbyists, corporations and individuals given to fund The President’s Transition Committee (PTC).

We’re not talking about the Political Action Committees working toward getting out the vote, nor the Inauguration Committee that puts on the big show the day the President is sworn in. Those are something else.

There is a cap on the amount any donor may contribute to the President’s Transition Committee: $5,000. Doesn’t sound like much, but it may be the buy of the millennium: face time with the most powerful human being on earth; an opportunity to persuade him or her to share some of the enormous power the President wields, in the hope it will advance the supplicants’ fortunes.

Consider for a moment that every firm in the American Beverage Association and every entity in The Alliance of Catholic Health Care (an odd paring) can contribute $5,000, and pretty soon you’ve $6.5-million to spend on countless needs designed to make the Prez comfortable.

To the casual reader, the list of donor’s names seems endless. The NRA, The Association of American Railroads, American Bankers Association, the American Petroleum Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers, General Electric, Microsoft, MetLife, AT&T, Exxon, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, J.P. Morgan & Chase and Pepsico, are among with scores of other organizations, all with an axe to grind.

This doesn’t count hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals, including Dallas Banker Andy Beal, Casino Tycoon Sheldon Anderson, Hedge Fund Manager Robert Mercer, his wife and daughter, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, and possibly you the reader of this diatribe,  gave $5,000 to Trump’s Transition Fund.

It’s worthwhile to know that when winning candidates set up separate nonprofit tax shelters under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, donors benefit from deductions made to the Presidential Transition Committee.

Please keep in mind that the Presidential Transition Committee Fund money is in addition of the many millions of political campaign fund dollars any of the above may have also contributed to candidates’ campaigns and/or the Inauguration Fund.  (Source: U.S. General Services  Administration).

Of all of the advice my father gave me, this is the most memorable: “Money doesn’t buy poverty.”

 

Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller, is a retired broadcast executive residing in Tucson, Arizona. He is the author of three books – “Water Dream,” “The Prosperity Coal Company” and “Miguel: Narcotraficante.” All are available at Amazon.com.

“He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself.” – Joseph L. Menchen

 

 

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