Political Donations & Selective Amnesia

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour. -Benjamin Disraeli

Political parties are so darned predictable, but they are fun to watch!

At about 10:15 a.m. Monday morning I laughed out loud. Why? I received an e-mail from the Montana Republican Party with the subject, “Will Tester Return Menendez’s Tainted Money?”

In case you missed last week’s “Thursday Numbers” column, I wrote about U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) being indicted on corruption charges (14 counts). Menendez has not been found guilty of anything.

According to the Montana GOP, U.S. Senator Jon Tester “received $10,000 of Senator Menendez’s tainted money.”

After that piece of information, the Montana GOP threw in a statement to make people think they genuinely care about people: “Montanans deserve to know why Senator Tester won’t do the right thing and return the $10,000 of tainted campaign cash he received from Menendez.”

Thank you Montana GOP for telling us what we deserve to know.

The fact is that most Montanans just don’t care. It’s just a political “gotcha” game that looks silly from the sidelines.

I must stop and applaud the Montana Republican Party. They did accomplish part of their mission – and that was to get the mainstream media to do a story about their “concerns.” A reporter for the USA Today writing for the Great Falls Tribune wrote close to 400 words Monday afternoon about Tester receiving a donation from Menendez. He was even able to get a quote from an associate professor of political science who is not from Montana State University – great googly moogly!

I was actually impressed with the speed with which the USA Today reporter, Christopher Doering, was able to get this story posted. Political parties and politicians will take note of this. His inbox will fill quickly.

The whole story could have been written in these 22 words:

Marnee Banks, director of communications with the Montana Democrat, said Monday if Menendez is convicted, Tester will donate the money to charity.

The icing on the cake for the Montana GOP (besides a mention here) is today’s Great Falls Tribune’s Question of the Day. The Tribune asks readers if Tester should return the donation from Menendez. The interns will be busy answering this question over and over today!

Don’t believe for one minute that either political party is more pure than the other.

For example, back in 2005 the Montana Democrats were screaming about Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg receiving about $20,000 in campaign donations “from a political action committee at the center of the investigation into indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.”

Sometimes politicians decide an indictment is bad enough to return donations. In regard to Menendez, politicians like Senators Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, and Michael Bennet have already returned the donations or given them to charity. When lobbyist Jack Abramoff was indicted, several politicians from both sides of the fence including Max Baucus, Conrad Burns, Denny Rehberg, Sam Brownback, and Byron Dorgan returned the donations or gave them to a charity.

The next step on the slippery slope is to contend that because the person giving the donation is dirty then the person receiving the donation is also dirty. It’s a tried and true method. Sometimes the naive folks in the media even believe it.

The Montana Republican Party is doing what comes naturally – Political parties will attack at the drop of the hat. They need to take “nothing” and make it into “something.” Voters are growing tired of these tactics.

Political parties also have to have selective amnesia because some of their own people have traveled down that same road.

That road is becoming a lonely road, because fewer people are siding with either the Republicans or Democrats.


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