PACs influence on elected officials

William T

William T. Robinson, Jr.

There has been an increasing number of elected officials who have chosen to advocate for big corporate and business PACs (Political Action Committees) contrary to the wishes or best interest of their base constituents. Call it what you want, but many see this financial influence in many cases as a betrayal in the trust and best interests of those voters who put their elected officials in office with the expectations that the candidates would be representing their best interests—not corporate or big business’ penchant for unprecedented profit and excessive greed.

But what adds insult to injury is the denial of improprieties by many elected officials who are opting to make favorable decisions on behalf of questionable PACs that give large sums of money to aid them during their campaign. It makes the average voter feel betrayed and used, especially when they find they have fallen for the old game of ‘bait and switch.’ This literally means those elected officials are in bed with the large contributors to their coffers, knowing they owe them but at the same time playing to the concerns of their common community base.

PACs can be beneficial if they are advocating for what is in the best interests for all citizens. They can be a helpful impetus for advocating for average working citizens. But by the same token, they can be a tool to push contentious agendas, promoting exorbitant profits for powerful corporations, businesses, and private contributors. Monies made by PACs can be used influentially in many areas to make or break potential candidates.

Let’ just be honest and realistic in acknowledging that most large corporations, businesses, or private citizens don’t donate large sums of money to someone’s campaign without expecting favors (some would say that is the American way). While there exist some running candidates who are very cautious and selective about those donating large sums of money to their campaigns, there are just as many who are ruthless and open to any money if it will help them win. Being held hostage or maintaining a forced allegiance to a big financial supporter does not usually fare well in advocating for what is in the best interests of the common hardworking people of this country who put their trust in their elected representatives.

You have elected officials who hold fast to the wishes of big corporate and business PACs, regardless of the opposition that may be raised by the majority of their local constituents. All too often, it was all about getting elected, using whatever sources available that would heighten their rise in fulfilling their often self centered agendas. You would think that some elected official could be charged with malfeasance but there are just as many loopholes in the system protecting wrongdoers or shady officials.

Corporate, business, and special interest PACs have numerous lobbyists advocating for their private interests in Congress, state and local legislatures, often impairing or negating what is in the best interests of John J. Public. It is no secret that many elected officials are secretly wooed and seduced with amenities, trips, money, and the promise of future employment (usually as consultants) once their elected positions end. The financial ceiling on PACs is no more than $5,000 for any given campaign contribution to a candidate or $15,000 to a political party. Ironically, this is supposed to discourage any one group or contributor from having undue influence, and swaying decisions made by elected officials.

Congress has no desire to remedy this blatant influence by powerful PACs often considered as a conflict of interest, because it is so widespread and financially advantageous to elected officials (another case of foxes guarding the henhouse). Make no mistake, some PACs’ influence is all about increasing their ability to make money regardless of the cost or welfare of the public—whether it be in compromising decisions affecting safety, environmental conservation, or extending lives. This can be seen by the position certain elected officials have taken in relaxing regulations for big car companies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pharmaceutical companies, the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Make no mistake, we have callous and treacherous elected officials who are taking advantage of a flawed system that needs to be overhauled and reconstructed. As it stands now, our biggest weapons to eradicate these lecherous predators are by our voting powers as concerned citizens demanding change. Money and greed should not be the common denominators contributing to a dismal and bleak outcome for future generations to come. Elected officials’ allegiance to some PACs needs to be questioned and addressed.